CultureEducation

Studying abroad was the absolute best decision I made in college. The idea popped into my head during my third year, and I headed for England just four months later. At 21 years old, I packed my bags and sat alone at the airport, excited and scared of what I (sort of) impulsively got myself into. I went to the University of Worcester in England for the Spring 2011 semester, where I stayed in a dorm with other international students. At the time, I thought the best part of it all was the absolute freedom to travel.

Flash-forward to almost five years later, I look back and realize that my experiences shaped exactly who and where I am today. It wasn’t just about the places I visited or the pictures I took; it was about growing up and learning from my mistakes. Here are three life lessons I learned from studying abroad, and reasons why I will always be grateful to have gone.

Ride the wave. You can try to plan and strategize everything you do, but often times, it won’t work out that way. We hear this all the time but it’s hard to conceptualize it until you’re out of college and living in the real world. When I was traveling abroad, there were flights I missed, things I forgot to pack, and money that I lost – and it all felt like the worst thing ever. I went nuts trying to figure my way out around problems, but ultimately I learned to be more flexible, innovative, and adaptive with my solutions. In your personal and professional life, many unexpected things happen and it makes no difference whether you can control them or not. It’s important to be willing to adapt to a new company, boss, or change the relationships you’re in and the career you are set on having. While it’s good to have a blueprint the next ten years, the truth is that good luck happens just as much as bad luck. Just keep moving forward.

You are a little freckle on the face of the earth. We always get told that everyone’s different and we shouldn’t judge anyone. But exposing yourself to different cultures makes you realize that your judgments and assumptions of others are only based on social standards that you grew up with. Whether they were instilled by your parents or friends, it’s all you know. Traveling and interacting with people that are totally different allows you to understand that the ideals you’ve been taught are not the only ones that exist – and you may not agree with them. What you always thought was “right” perhaps isn’t. Once you truly internalize what all of that means, the more you’ll be able to think for yourself. Opening your mind to the reality that people, many people, exist outside your bubble (your friends/town/country), the better you’ll be at accepting others despite your opinions of them. This characteristic is not only crucial to your personal development, but in your professional growth as well. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll be exposed to people from all sorts of backgrounds. It’s not a matter of knowing everything about them, but a matter of having a respect for their differences.

Everything has a deadline. When you’re young, it’s easy to feel invincible and think everything lasts forever. This is because the transition between grammar school, high school, and college aren’t really that drastic; they all consist of classrooms, textbooks, summer vacations – the list goes on. You go through the motions with your friends and it seems like your 30th birthday is literally never going to happen. When I headed home from the U.K., I realized how quickly life passes by. One week I was at the Cliffs of Moher, the next I was camping out for Will and Kate’s royal wedding, and then suddenly I was just sitting on my couch watching TV in New Jersey. Now, at 26 years old, I can’t even process the fact that my early twenties are gone. Though it’s common to want to fast-forward to a future event (whether it’s graduating or turning 21), it’s important to stop and appreciate the here and now. One day, you might be wishing you were right where you are at this moment.

As someone who is all about making mistakes and experiencing things on my own, I am the first to say that reading about life lessons isn’t even close to learning them. But if there’s anything I hope people will gain by reading this, it’s to look for something to take a chance on while there’s time (and to obviously study abroad if you can). It’s not just about making new memories, it’s about changing yourself for the better, too.

Image: Flickr

CultureLearnTravel

There is no shortage of great literature about England, or by English writers. Whether it’s about the English and their manners, a foreigner moving to London, a little red-headed school girl taking a class trip, or a day in the life of a woman planning a party, stories set in the country you’re visiting will provide you with a new perspective and add another layer of excitement into your planning or actual trip.

If you’re headed to England, spend some time reading these books before your travels. Reading about a country you will soon explore will make your adventures rich with knowledge and more fulfilling. There’s nothing like learning as much as you can before a trip to get the most out of it and to see the stories you read about come to life.

1. LONDON: A BIOGRAPHY by Peter Ackroyd

Get to know London through its history, people, and observations. Two thousand years worth of history and folklore are in this biography of the capital of England – read it to get a good sense of the culture and events that shaped this city.

2. A LITTLE PRINCESS by Francis Hodgson Burnett
You might know this story better as the movie version, which we grew up watching too many times to count. In this 1905 children’s novel, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to make friends at boarding school in London. However, when her father, Captain Crewe dies, the headmistress of the school strips Sara of her nice things, and she is transformed from a princess to a pauper.

3. SORRY!: THE ENGLISH AND THEIR MANNERS by Henry Hitchings
What does it mean to have proper manners? Henry Hitchings examines English manners and investigates what it means to be English. We love books that help us better understand different cultures, mannerisms, and provide a unique anthropological view of how others live.

4. WHITE TEETH by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith’s debut novel is the story of two friends and veterans from World War II – Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal – in their later years. Set in North London, Smith tackles a beautiful story of friendship, life, race, history, and culture.

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5. THE GREAT STINK by Clare Clark
In 1855, engineer William May returns to Victorian London to transform the city’s sewer system. When a murder occurs in the tunnels, William is considered a suspect. Clark creatively combines fact and fiction to produce a gripping story.

6. BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens
Dickens tackles the injustices of the British legal system in this classic novel. Known as one of Dickens’ most ambitious novel, he takes readers from the British aristocracy to the poorest of the London slums.

7. LONDONERS by Craig Taylor
Journalist Craig Taylor shines a unique perspective on London through the eyes of those who live there. From a rickshaw driver in the West End to a Soldier of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, London is loved and hated. The memories and stories from those who have been a part of its history are included in this book.

8. MRS. DALLOWAY by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf’s extraordinary talent is captured in this novel through her examination of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party in London in June 1923.

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9. A CONCISE CHINESE-ENGLISH DICTIONARY FOR LOVERS by Xiaolu Guo
An inventive novel of language and love, Guo explorse a young Chinese woman’s journey to London to learn English. When she meets an Englishman and falls in love, she learns more about herself and language than ever before.

10. THE BALLAD OF PECKHAM RYE by Muriel Spark
In this story, Dougal Douglas, a Scottish migrant, moves to Peckham in London and wreaks havoc on the town and those who live there. This 1960 short novel is known to have a fresh comic style and interesting supernatural elements.

11. BRICK LANE by Monica Ali
After an arranged marriage, Nazneen is taken to London and has to leave her Bangladeshi village behind. Readers are taken along for the adventures of Nazneen’s new life.

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12. THE NIGHT WATCH by Sarah Waters
In this story of four Londoners, three women and a young man’s lives intertwine and then change in the shadow of a grant event. We are all for literary suspense.

13. SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN by Buchi Emecheta
In this classic tale of a Nigerian woman, Adah, who brings her family to London, themes about immigration, identity, and racism emerge. Though Adah seeks an independent life for herself and her children, she is faced with the hard truths of being a new citizen.

14. MADELINE IN LONDON by Ludwig Bemelmans
The beloved Madeline makes her way to London with her class and Miss Clavel to visit Pepito, who has just moved there.

15. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
First published in 1813, this beautiful novel is one for the ages. The story follows Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. You can never go wrong with Jane Austen.

What books about London have you read or are interested in reading?

P.S. 11 books to read before traveling to Ireland.

Culture

Innovation today has become an ever-expanding idea and concept that continues to garner and create new and interesting ways of contributing to our evolving societies.

The fact of the matter is, if you are not innovating in whichever field or arena you find yourself dealing with, chances are the spectrum of your work will simply get left behind.

The millennial generation continues to move to places that inspire cultivation; as they remain a leading force of change with more forward-thinking means of living. They are hungry for new, cutting edge technology, infrastructure, design, and overall quality of life.

As they evolve and find the world adapting to the changes of the future, a select group of world cities have emerged to foster the next generation of young leadership. Consistently millennials are on a mission to seek out spaces that they can call our own, which allow for individuality and ability to have dynamic social lives with good work and life balance.

In no particular order, these 14 cities are among the best for innovation for the millennial generation.

Johannesburg, South Africa  

The only African city on the list, Joburg is seen as one of Africa’s most vibrant cities of the future. Bustling with creativity, energy and reinvention, many view the success of this city as the benchmark for the rest of the continent. Home to one of Africa’s largest stock exchanges, the city has a young, dynamic population that adds to its developing attraction for bars, restaurants, and nightlife.

Singapore, Singapore

Having one of Asia’s most innovative economies and diverse multinational populations, this Southeast Asian city often tops many lists globally for livability and innovative practices. The small city-state continues to set the benchmark for innovation and forward thinking in sectors of technology, investment, infrastructure and livability standards.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Known as one of the most progressive cities in the world for ages, Amsterdam is seen as a highly efficient, cutting edge city for its go-green efforts, livability, social policies, and cultural attractions. Amsterdam has a bustling social scene and nightlife, and is also known as the most bike-friendly city on the planet.

Bangalore, India

Though not as widely known as Mumbai, the nation’s cosmopolitan and business capital, Bangalore has emerged as South Asia’s IT hub. Thousands of new startups spring up around the city each year, with clean and modern infrastructure positioning the city to experience rapid foreign direct investment. Today, the city is now known by the west as the Silicon Valley of India, attracting top talent from around the world.

London, United Kingdom

With more foreign tourists visiting London than any city in the world, as well as being named the best city in the world for economic opportunity, it has now unofficially become the economic and cultural capital of Europe. Boosting an array of opportunities in various sectors, as well as a high number of expats from overseas, the city attracts top young talent from around the world. There is a growing and emerging array of global entrepreneurs choosing to make the city their ground to launch new ventures.

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Known as an Asian mega-city for several decades, Hong Kong’s vertical ascent into the future began far before several of its emerging Asian counterparts. It has been a massively important port for domestic and international trade, serving as a meeting point for top multinational dialogue. The city continues to reinvent itself with its distinctly Asian heritage and passion for cutting edge design and space-saving efforts. A large group of expats comprises the city’s young professional scene with vibrant social opportunities for all.

Vienna, Austria

Austria’s capital, Vienna, is seen as a massively clean and controlled city. Home to culturally important museums, governmental agencies and boasting amazing public transportation, the city fares well with both locals, expats, and tourists as a popular destination to live and work.

San Francisco, USA

This American coastal city on the Pacific Ocean serves as one of the nation’s most desirable places to live and work. The energy, social scene, diversity, and environment of the bay area make the city a desirable destination for young professionals. In addition, its access to Silicon Valley and vast tech and entrepreneurial startups makes the city flourish as a hot destination for innovation.

São Paulo, Brazil

Considered one of South America’s largest megacities, São Paulo is leading this region of the world, acting as Brazil’s knowledge, innovation and finance market capital. Roughly 20 million people make up the landscape of the city, which has the most innovative universities and industries in Latin America. A growing number of multinational firms and businesses are choosing to make the city their base for further integration into the region. São Paulo also has excellent social and living conditions for young professionals.

Vancouver, Canada

This Canadian city has embarked on a mission to become the greenest city on the planet by the year 2020. It is currently working towards this goal by a water consumption decrease of 20 percent. With access to green spaces and public transportation, the city is also home to a vibrant young professional scene.

Santiago, Chile

Retaining one of South America’s lowest corruption rates, Santiago’s economic capital has launched itself as one the region’s most innovative places for starting new ventures and business opportunity. The city boasts a healthy and stable economy with a strong, expanding network of infrastructure projects.

Boston, USA

Seen as one of America’s most historic and oldest cities, Boston is also known as the nation’s education capital, boosting an array of world-class universities and institutions which are hubs for innovation in themselves. The city is young, dynamic and creative, and it fosters a unique blend of culture, charm, and history.

Dubai, UAE

Now seen as the hub of the Middle East, this oil-rich kingdom has launched its success from natural resources into a tax-free safe haven for expats and multinational investment. Close to 80% of the city is now comprised of overseas expats coming to live, work, and experience the city’s growing clout internationally. It is also home to many Guinness World Record titles, with the 160-story Burj Khalifa, its most iconic structure, as the world’s tallest building.

Stockholm, Sweden

While Sweden’s three largest cities all top international lists as truly innovate destinations of the future, its economic capital of Stockholm has been a groundbreaking destination for innovation and development. A strong culture of innovation has propelled this Nordic nation to the forefront of ambitious research, cutting edge infrastructure and passion for efficiency. Swedes are often described as being the world’s fastest population at adapting to new trends and ideas, and are not only economically and socially liberal, but also among the Europe’s most educated. With a strong reputation for being a high economic performer within Europe, the circuit of young and innovative companies, design, social venues, and people make Stockholm a highly efficient hub for growth for the future.

Image: Pasu Au Yeung

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We met up with Shavanna Miller, the Co-Founder and CEO of Bloompop, earlier this fall in a coffee shop in the middle of bustling downtown Washington, D.C. Having grown up in the area, Shavanna knew the in’s and out’s of the metropolitan streets and kindly helped point lost passerbys in the right direction. It’s no wonder that she now runs an online marketplace that connects consumers with the best local florists across the country (think ‘Etsy for flowers’) – she is a natural community builder. Apart from providing beautiful flowers and an incredibly easy and enjoyable browsing and purchasing experience, Bloompop’s true success is in helping small businesses and consumers build a stronger community network.

Shavanna graciously shares her career trajectory, how she stays organized, and why she ultimately decided to come back to D.C. after having lived in so many great cities. This entrepreneur is making the world a better place one bouquet at a time, and we’re so excited to share her interview and introduce the face behind the flowers.

Name: Shavanna Miller
Occupation: Co-Founder/CEO, Bloompop
Age: 29
Education: The German School of Washington D.C.,B.S. in Environmental Science and Film Studies from Columbia University, London School of Economics and Political Science
Follow Shavanna: Facebook | Twitter |LinkedIn
Follow Bloompop: Bloompop | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Shavanna Miller: One thing I’ve tried to do is always say yes to opportunities. Whenever I’ve had to make a decision on something that could be important – whether its deciding to take a new job, making a leap into entrepreneurship, taking on additional work for a committee, or even helping someone else out – I’ve never regretted taking those opportunities – even if not everything pans out. There are a few times I’ve regretted not taking them for some reason or another, and that kind of regret is much worse. So my definition of Seizing Your Youth would be to act rationally about the opportunities you might take, but to ultimately take those opportunities, especially early on.

CJ: You studied film and environmental science at Columbia University – How did you decide what to study?

SM: Those were two topics I really loved on a personal level. For a while I thought that I was going to be working in film so a lot of my internships in school were related to that. I worked at a production company and an agency for actors. Those experiences were very fun and I still have many friends working in that industry. But somewhere along the lines I realized it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. The environmental side of things was a personal interest that I’ve always had. When I was growing up I raised and bred aquarium fish. My parent’s basement was filled with aquariums; I think I had 30 aquariums or so when I left for college. That was a lot of fun and it was how I learned about basic genetics, water quality, etc. I probably started that in the fifth grade and it’s something I hope to get back to when I have the space again.

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CJ: What did you do after you finished studying at the London School of Economics and Political science?

SM: When I finished graduate school I went back to New York. I started my career at Meetup, which was a great introduction to both the startup and tech worlds. It was smaller then than it is now, so I really had a chance to interact with every department. Eventually I left Meetup to go to Rosetta Stone in Washington, D.C., which was a fantastic experience as well and is also a great company. I was promoted there to ultimately be the head of web sales for the US consumer side of the business. I was responsible for a huge part of the company’s global annual sales – definitely a big, exciting thing to have on your shoulders. I had an amazing team there and we did everything from social marketing, to managing email and paid search platforms, to working with affiliates, you name it – basically anything related to digital sales. I managed a team of seven people who each had their own specializations. We were a very young, fun team and I loved the company.

CJ: What tools do you use daily to keep yourself organized?

SM: My sister is also an entrepreneur – she’s the CEO and co-founder of Kabinet based in New York – and the two of us have an ongoing debate about how we manage our time, and what tools we use. There are so many tools out there you can use, and I feel like you can have as many apps as there are people since everyone manages things differently. I’ve tried a million of them, but honestly I always end up coming back to a notepad and pen. I keep trying to figure out how to modernize this classic method with technology. I heard about a partnership between Moleskin and Livescribe recently which sounds like it could be exactly right for me. And of course I also use google calendar for meetings so it can sync to my phone, but for actual tasks I always come back to paper and pen To-Do lists. Old school.

CJ: What made you decide to come back to D.C. where you grew up after living in a couple of different cities?

SM: I actually came back to D.C. because of the Rosetta Stone opportunity. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job here, but it came up and it was an exciting opportunity. So it was almost a coincidence that I grew up here, but it’s great being around my parents again and being back in this city.

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CJ: Where did you get the inspiration for Bloompop?

SM: I’m someone who has always personally loved flowers, and what I discovered as I looked into this space was that it’s a really outdated industry in more aspects than I’d initially realized. I knew that the experience for consumers was really terrible, but it was shocking to discover how detrimental it is to the florists themselves. Local florists will often work with a mega-network like 1800flowers etc, but they don’t get to create any of their own designs, have no creativity in the process, and to add insult to injury often barely make money off of those orders. I’ve actually spoken with many who literally lose money on filling orders for the big flower behemoths. It was an industry ripe for disruption. I decided to take my experience in digital sales and tech, combine it with my love for flowers, and tackle this outdated industry with better quality products, better tools for both florists and consumers, and modern tech and marketing experiences.

CJ: What has been the greatest success since having started Bloompop?

SM: Definitely putting my team together. Matt, my co-founder and CTO, for example, is brilliant and also somebody who is such a perfect cultural fit with the company. The two of us get along amazingly and I’m finding that that’s incredibly important. We all spend so much time together, so being able to find the right people – on both a personal and professional level – has been one of my biggest successes. It was a very deliberate thing in finding them and building our team; it wasn’t something I took lightly.

bloompop launch

CJ: Can you please tell me a bit about your past experience with The Craft Factory?

SM: I’ve always been into DIY projects. Craft factory was something I started when I was back at Meetup. It was a group that came together every month and worked on a project together. I think that DIY is a stress reliever for me because at Bloompop so much of my day-to-day is digital – from web sales and marketing to product work – it’s very much sitting front of a laptop. DIY is a nice way to do something with your hands.

CJ: You also have an Etsy shop called HudsonScout – can you please tell us more about that?

SM: I’ve been an Etsy seller for several years now – it’s great because it has really helped in my understanding of the supply side of an online marketplace. Which obviously comes in handy now with Bloompop. My shop on etsy sells first birthday candles. I actually started HudsonScout by selling candles in every number, but what I eventually saw was that nearly 95% of orders were for First Birthday candles. So now that’s really what the whole focus is.

CJ: Although you’re a young company, has Bloompop hired interns before?

SM: We had two interns last summer but none currently. I feel like hiring interns at such a small company can have a huge impact – it’s a combination of figuring out what they can be doing that really has an impact and also providing them with a valuable experience. We want interns who will be excited about Bloompop and become serious contributing members of the team.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

SM: Become friends with professors at CU’s business school.

Image: Courtesy of Bloompop

Shavanna Miller Qs

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We first discovered Katie Leamon’s gorgeous luxury cards and stationery during a trip abroad. When we stumbled across her notebooks, we were immediately smitten. Based in England, Katie runs her own company devoted to making beautiful paper goods. Having studied art and design in school, Katie followed her passion and turned it into a successful brand. We adored learning more about the woman behind the stationery, and Katie is hardworking and very sweet. Katie shares a glimpse into her busy days, how youth interested in running their own business can set themselves up for success, and her favorite things to do in London.

Name: Katie Leamon
Age: 29
Education: Loughborough University Woven Textile BA Degree; First Class Honors
Follow: Katie Leamon | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Katie Leamon: Be open minded, try new things, challenge yourself every day, believe in yourself, and take the opportunities that life throws at you, and if it doesn’t then go and grab them yourself!

CJ: You majored in Textile Design at Loughborough University. How did you determine what to study?

KL: I loved art and design at school, and I concentrated on textile design throughout my foundation course so it was the next natural step. I then choose to specialize in woven textiles because I wanted to learn a new skill while I was at university which would not be overly accessible following my time in school.

CJ: You are the Director of Katie Leamon, a company devoted to making gorgeous luxury cards and stationery proudly made in England, which you launched in 2010. Where did your love of making beautiful stationery come from?

KL: I am a bit of a perfectionist and pay a huge amount of attention to the detail of a product, so when I set about starting my own thing, it seemed clear to me that it was going to be a high end product. Initially it was just about the design. I didn’t think about starting a stationery business, I was just building my portfolio and getting back into drawing. I have always loved paper products and stationery seemed like an obvious avenue to try and an accessible one for a young designer, so that’s where I started!

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CJ: What responsibilities do you have as the Director?

KL: I am directly responsible for the design and finish of a product, but as it’s my company, all major responsibilities come back to me. We have a great little team, but I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to my work and I still take on a lot more of the daily responsibility than I should!

CJ: How did your education and past work experiences prepare you to start Katie Leamon?

KL: I worked in a small fashion design company for two years before starting up on my own and the experience of running a small company was invaluable. I did a lot of the wholesale side of things which helped when I first set out, and the design experience throughout education and work was all influential in my first collection, and continue to be.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from running your own company?

KL: Don’t try and run before you can walk. You can kill your company by moving too slowly and equally by moving too fast and making bad, ill-considered decisions. Things have a way of working themselves out so don’t lose too much sleep about things out of your control. Also, don’t hold back on making decisions. As long as you’re making decisions, they won’t be the wrong ones – the worst thing you can do is stay still.

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CJ: What is your design process? Where do you find inspiration?

KL: My design process is a little back to front… I tend to visualize a finished product and then work backwards to get it down on paper and make it a reality.

I am constantly being inspired, and normally have too many ideas, often unrealistic, running around my mind! I can be looking at patterns in the pavement to latest fashion trends, and think of something that could transfer to paper. Sometimes I don’t think we are even aware of many of our influences. I take intentional inspiration from vintage typography, I scour secondhand shops, and the images and style are always inspiring.

CJ: How did you go about the process of selling Katie Leamon luxury cards and stationery in high end retailers in the United Kingdom and across the world?

KL: I was very lucky in that my first stockist was Liberty of London; I was a successful candidate in their Open Call day in early 2011, and following that success gave me the confidence and money to try a trade show and I gained another few stockists, including Selfridges so it grew organically from then on. I think you need to know where you want to pitch your brand before you start, there is no point designing a high end product and targeting mass market chain stores.

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CJ: What can a teenager or young adult who wants to start their own luxury card and stationery company do now to set themselves up for success?

KL: Work hard. There is no way around it, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I think it’s also very important to experiment and know your brand identity and style before you pitch to the market, have a strong unique product, and target the right places.

CJ: What would you say to people who are uncertain about starting a business? What motivated you to take the leap?

KL: I wanted to work for myself and I wanted to make beautiful things. It’s very hard at first, you’re on much less money, if any, than all of your friends, but the hard work is starting to pay off now and I would always recommend doing it if you can. I was working on such low money before I decided to start my own thing that I decided I had nothing to lose, I’d always wanted to do it, I am self-motivated, and I work hard, so I wanted to reap the benefits of working that hard for my own thing! I could get the same money from a part-time job initially, so I did that for the first couple of years while the company grew. I also had the support of my family, I shared my studio with my brother, and he paid the rent for the first couple of months and they were all so supportive. They helped me take that leap so I was very lucky.

CJ: What is the best moment of your career so far?

KL: That’s a hard one, I have a couple. My success at the Open Call day at Liberty was really the start of it all so that was a huge game changer and a huge accomplishment for me. Also, the building and opening of our production studio in Essex. We built the studio as a family, and now my mum and sister run all our production from there. It was a real “Wow, look how far I have come” moment for me.

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CJ: Describe a day in your life.

KL: My day varies largely depending on the time of year and on how close we get to a trade show! But generally speaking, I arrive at the studio at about 8-8.30am, and run through my emails while eating my breakfast. When my assistant Georgia arrives, we will run through our current projects and where we are with them. I will then catch up with my mum and sister who run the production studio in Essex and iron out any issues that might have come up and discuss any projects or new accounts that we are working on.

I then try to concentrate on the design side of things. Whether it’s working on new design projects, selecting and sampling colours and paper stock or actually getting my head down and doing some drawing. I always start with doodles in my sketchbook, then edit and try things on the computer. As to be expected with a small company, my day is interrupted with various queries, but I try to structure my day around our current projects and deadlines. Currently I’m trying to finish off our catalogue for Top Drawer, so I’m finalizing samples for a photo-shoot next week, and selecting some new envelope styles for a limited edition run of neon!

CJ: How do you balance your career roles and goals? How do you stay organized and efficient?

KL: Luckily I am naturally organized. But as a company we plan our weeks with what needs to get done and other things we want to achieve with the tasks at hand. I think you need to be flexible, you can’t plan too far in advance or you might miss an opportunity. Up to now I have let the business dictate a little of its own path, stores have approached us which has led to new and exciting things, and we obviously have goals but I think they are constantly changing and evolving. We evaluate things as often as possible and try to identify as quickly as possible if we are going off course.

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CJ: How do you like to enjoy your free time?

KL: I am a bit of a foodie so I love eating out with friends and trying the wealth of London’s food markets! I also love being outdoors and keeping active so I love camping, going to the beach, and keeping fit.

CJ: Which book had the greatest impact on you?

KL: Gone Girl, I was thinking about it for ages after I read it!

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

KL: Work hard but worry less. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

CultureTravel

Wanderlust coursed through my 15-year-old veins when I was given the option to travel and either explore the depths of a few European countries or the few hotspots of many countries. Of course, I chose the second alternative. Perhaps it was the naive desperation to check off more countries on my map of travelled places or the craving to be impressed by Europe’s must-see cities. But I then realized that I just wanted to witness Rome’s grandiosity as one of the birthplaces of classicism and breathe the glamorous Parisian air. London lingered in my thoughts with an image of wild print on fabric, charming accents, and tea breaks in-between exciting landmark sight-seeing tours. But London was not my favorite destination. Neither was Rome or Paris or Madrid. Maybe I was lucky, but having three free days Spain gave me the opportunity impulsively decide to take a stranger’s advice and visit multiple towns in Asturias, a northern region of the country. It turns out life has more treasures than the ones sitting in the chest.

Bruges may have had me at whimsical Spanish moss floating over unaligned, rustic, and ancient brick roads; but Cudillero had me at that dead-end parking spot, making walking our last resort into the vehicle-prohibited town. In order to reach the boardwalk that led to the town, walking through an unusually located car show between two cliffs was obligatory. Miles away from Cudillero’s entrance, “Stereolove” by Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina almost pulverized my eardrum. There were about 200 teens, young adults, and middle-aged men and women who were all undoubtedly there to display their unique Lamborghinis and Ferraris, mingling, and somehow chattering through the music. An amalgamation of two stark different atmospheres is what I had yet to notice. “Completely historic, not quite; absolutely modern, neither; wannabe Barcelona in the middle of nowhere, definitely,” I thought as we managed to squirm around the car enthusiasts.

A long narrow path sandwiched between cliff and sea awaited us. Concrete sidewalk corrupted the untouched serene water that held homage to the picturesque sailboats. The sun was fogged away by the opaque clouds. White sailboats sat beside wooden canoes latched onto the wooden docks by a ratty beige rope. Step after step, I snapped picture after picture and stood facing the silent water as I ingested the novelty that was somehow before me. From a totally bizarre car show to an impossibly picture-perfect scenery, I still couldn’t believe there was a sea of 3-D printed Van Gough sailboats to my left, psychedelic beats behind me, obscure fog 100 feet in front of me, and towering cliffs to my right. I wondered how this combination was even conceivable.

A few feet away was a scruffy fisherman who lightly tossed his turquoise cloth bag behind his shoulders. Behind him was a tall man impeccably dressed in a white suit who held his lover’s hand, garbed in eye-snatching Gaultier couture.  And I, in my emerald suede flats, truly effortless jeans, and plain H&M sweater marveled at what kind of place this was. Surely, this boardwalk led us all to the same panorama – a ginormous fungus-infested concrete ramp that brought the colorful building squares with matchless windows into the sea. It was the oddest place I had ever been to with only one primary entrance. Anyone who entered the town came out the same way – over the now-modernized narrow bridge. Vibrant neon moss stuck itself to the bottom of my flats and outlined the edges like a piece of abstract art. Cold, humid air reached the depths of my lungs like two strangers meeting in symbiosis. I could say that this was the beginning of an experience to an indescribable dream, but one thing was for sure: there was no place like it.

I never would have expected my journey to an unheard of village to be more enjoyable than a trip across Europe. The next time you plan a trip, don’t forget to leave a few days open for hidden gems. Their anonymous nature may seem like quite the dare, but here are a few tips to make them happen and to make the best of them:

  1. Never be afraid of unplanned detours.

Say you have your trip planned down to the minute. Incorporate free time into your itinerary. Take a minute or two to ask a few locals about their favorite places to visit in that country (or area). Chances are that it is not a tourist hotspot. Grab a map, do some internet research, and begin filling in that free time.

  1. Reservations have their cons.

Restaurants, activities, and lodging bookings may sound comforting when travelling to an unfamiliar place, but the fine print? They may tie you down. Always expect the unexpected because travel delays and mood shifts will always happen. Embrace a bit of spontaneity and don’t be afraid to show up in a town or city with an open agenda. Unless you’re in Russia during the next World Cup, book your night stay on the day-of and take the freedom of paving your own journey day-by-day.

  1. Expect unconventional means of transportation, breath-taking scenery, and authentic everything.

Prepare for anything when it comes to methods of transit as they are endless and still very much alive. Ferries, canoes, trains, mini-planes, and even walking may replace driving. This journey will certainly teach you a little something about photography, so always keep a camera on-hand. If you’re abroad and leaving the tourist centers, it should go unsaid that not everyone will speak your native tongue and that’s always a fun challenge. Once again, don’t worry – it’s amazing to see where other forms of communication can take you.

Food, of course, is important to many. You may find ease in that safety dish that happened to be Americanized such as the margarita pizza, but take a chance and leave your comfort zone. Taste the culture! You may remember that Italy has great pasta, but you will never forget that tiny, almost unnoticeable, trattoria that served that one-of-a-kind basil-sautéed penne with herbs that grew in that restaurant’s own garden!

Off-the-map doesn’t mean off-your-trip. If you really want to get to know a country, visit the outskirts.  They definitely make for the most memorable, exquisite, and unexpected adventures!

CultureEducationTravel

CHOOSING THE DESTINATION

With over 190 countries in the world and 50 states in America alone, how do you figure out where to travel to? How do you narrow down the choices let alone choose just one?

Although we live in a globalized world with phenomenally quick modes of transportation and travel guides in every language, the bottom line is that physical convenience does not equal financial accessibility. Traveling is still a very costly activity and must therefore be considered carefully. When it comes to spending, even the smallest details of a trip can make the difference – check out our tips for traveling on a budget.

Ultimately the biggest question still comes down to where you will be going and then building your plans around that decision. I have compiled the most useful information that helped me decide to travel when I had one week available to me this previous November while I was studying abroad in Denmark.

1)   Here at Carpe, we suggest that you aim high! Get a pen and paper out and write down all the places you want to go. Consider characteristics of places you would enjoy exploring. Maybe you want to visit somewhere with historical landmarks or sandy beaches. Perhaps you want to experience what sleeping in an igloo is like! Whatever strikes your fancy write it down! Follow the steps below to sort out what your most realistic options are. I knew that I wanted to go somewhere with a lot of museums and was accessible by public transportation. Those two key factors helped me narrow down my search to London and Paris.

2)   How will you be traveling? Consider the way you will be traveling and what you’re realistically able to afford and physically handle. If you live in the United States but and want to visit Australia, keep in mind that that trip is over 24 hours worth of flying. Don’t be afraid to look locally and consider what is just under your nose! Although I toyed with the idea of going to Turkey or even South America, ultimately I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford those plane tickets and that one week would not be enough time to explore any surrounding areas.

3)   How much time do you have? Are you taking a short getaway weekend trip or will this be an all-out excursion? Figure out how many days and nights you have, and don’t forget to factor in travel time and potential jet-lag. A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel to China to see family, but I did not realize that the time difference would cause me to be so tired! It took me about three days on each end of the trip to properly adjust to the new time zone. If you are doing a short trip I would suggest not going too far out of the same time zone, or you will lose exploration time to sleep.

4)   Consider your age. This may sound like an odd step, but take a second to think about your age in relation to the place you want to visit; if you are thinking about going to Las Vegas but are only fifteen, explore some other options and figure out how you can get the most experience out of your trip. If you have a very touristy city like New York on your list, keep in mind that because those are in metropolitan areas and therefore more handicap accessible, they might be better options for when you are older. Take advantage of the extra energy you have when you are younger and go somewhere that you can utilize that physical capability. On my independent trip, I got around almost entirely by walking and taking the metro. It was necessary for me to have the energy for multiple days of walking, but because of the solid infrastructure I could have taken cabs if necessary.

5)   Are you traveling in a group or independently? In our first Travel Series post we outline the importance of safety. It’s critical to take into account safety aspects whether you are in a group or alone. If you have never traveled alone before but are choosing to for the next adventure, consider going somewhere that is safe for a young person who is new to traveling. It also helps to visit somewhere that you know someone. When I travelled to London and Paris by myself I asked my friends via Facebook if they were also in those cities. It turned out that I have more than a few friends in both places who I was able to meet up with and explore the city with! If you are in a larger group maybe go somewhere more adventurous – you will have more people to keep on eye on the surroundings and belongings, and to help take care of each other.

Wherever you choose to go, I hope you have an awesome time! Traveling is a wonderful privilege and I hope some of this advice helps you narrow down your next travel destination!

Where are you going next? Let us know!

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As a working actor in New York City, Logan Keeler is a very busy man. Days before his premiere in the medical drama, Men In White, Logan took time to sit down with Carpe Juvenis to discuss advice for those interested in acting, what he did to become a professional actor, and to explain how he prepares for roles. New York City is an exciting place to be an actor and participate in the theater, and Logan continually builds upon his experiences with each new role.

Thoughtful, kind, and knowledgeable in his craft, Logan is someone you will be inspired by and learn a lot from. When he’s not taking walks in the park, rehearsing lines, or auditioning, you can find Logan on-stage in the rare revival of Men In White, which opened on November 8 and runs until November 24 in New York City. 

Name: Logan Keeler
Age: 25
Education: B.A. in Theater and Film Studies from Connecticut College
Follow: The Seeing Place Theater | The William Esper Studio | Profile

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Logan Keeler: I don’t think youth is something that we have to lose. I think a lot of people are very much afraid of that. Adulthood means giving a lot of things up. I think perhaps it’s the business that I’m in, youthful experiences is so coveted because that’s where human beings want to live. I live in New York City and so many people are wrapped up in their jobs and have schedules and responsibilities.

Youth is really just appreciating very simple joys without critique. Seizing your youth would be more like retaining appreciation for smaller things. Just as you’re a kid on the baseball field and not watching the game, just picking up the blades of grass, that’s nothing that we have to lose, and that’s something that I personally try to retain.

CJ: What did you major in at Connecticut College and how did you determine what to study?

LK: I majored in Theater and minored in Film Studies. A liberal arts college worked for me because I still wasn’t quite sure what to do. I always liked acting and maybe started as an attention-getter or something so that explains the theater major. I went more on a whim and had very little plans but it gave me a chance to say, “Hate this, hate this- love this.” If I went back, I would pick up the film major as well.

CJ: Did you study abroad? What was your big takeaway from studying abroad and do you think it was worth it?

LK: I studied abroad in London at the British American Drama Academy. I almost stayed in Connecticut at the Eugene O’Neill Center, which is a really good program for acting. It was only 15 minutes away, though, so I decided on London.  It was great to get out and see another perspective. The British look at acting very differently and neither side of the pond is wrong. You can pick and choose which things you like. If anything, studying in Britain just solidified my interest in acting.

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CJ: What or who inspired you to become an actor?

LK: It was very much a combination of my parents. I have three siblings and we all went in very different directions with our lives. We very well did not have to, but we were brought up by my mother and father who were very open to giving us opportunities to try something and hate something and then find something that sticks. I tried a whole bunch of things – swimming, soccer, sketching – I wanted to be, like every other 9-year-old at some point – an astronaut. Just personality-wise, I grew up with my mother’s warmth and my dad’s humor and just the combination of the two, once I discovered theater, was a way I didn’t have to hide this weird personality. It’s cliché, but it’s mostly them and just the circumstances of life. Oh, and loving these old movies. Maybe it was West Side Story; that could have been it, too.

CJ: You were in the off-off Broadway production of MONEY – what was that experience like?

LK: That was last summer in 2012. It was fun to work in the big leagues. I worked with the same director at Connecticut College when we worked on You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Gerald Moshel. He called me out of the blue, someone had dropped out, and I was a little reticent but I agreed to do it and I’m glad I did. Financially, it gave me the opportunity to leave my regular day-work for a little bit and focus. It’s a fun show. No one really knows it so there wasn’t the pressure to live up to what happened last time or to how a famous actor played the role. The play is cute, it’s farce, it’s all making fun of the upper class and bureaucracy and doctors.

CJ: You can next be seen in the production MEN IN WHITE, which opened November 8. How do you choose roles and how do you prepare for them?

LK: There’s a lot of opportunity in this city. I don’t want to put myself in a corner and say “I only do musical farces, or dramatic death scenes on CSI.” I find opportunities that come along and I often just seize them because they are rare but if it is a question of “is this something I’m interested in,” I try to find the challenge in it. Men in White is a beautifully written show, it’s from the 1930s, and it’s a hospital drama. The challenge is that it’s a period piece and it’s seeped in medical terminology. It has quite a legacy to go with it; we haven’t seen it professionally in this city since it was done in 1933.

I stepped up to the plate with this role and it’s the next project – you can only put your attention at one place at one time. This is where I’ve been putting my attention for the past month or so. We had a long rehearsal period. The play wraps up in December and then I continue on, and that’s how it goes, unless I find that Broadway role and it runs a couple of years, but that’s a bit down the road.

CJ: Do you have a pre-show ritual?

LK: It has morphed over the years. I borrow from people and I see what works. I am a very physical actor, I like to get loosened up and stretch. Otherwise that pre-show tension or any residual tension from the day – nerves, if you will, I’ll just get locked up. I’m a big proponent for stretching. I’ll find an empty room with my headphones and get my mind off of the audience. I like to be jocular and light but the last 15 minutes or so, that is for me.

CJ: How do you stay motivated on-stage night after night of performing?

LK: If the story is intriguing enough and you’re invested in it, it’s nothing you really have to worry about. When you see acting done really well on-stage, it’s seamless and effortless. Similar to the movies, it feels like watching a scene for the first time, not the fifteenth take. It’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes where I explore a lot of questions and details about what’s happening with the character in the scene. The other characters are there, the problem is there, and you are there. Whatever happens happens, and it’s a very scary thing to think about but you have to have faith that you and your cohorts have done the work. You and the actors are leaves floating down the stream, it should just carry you, and mistakes really only happen when you resist it.

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CJ: What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned from being a working actor?

LK: It’s not a business that is a means to an end, which is the big illusion of the industry, theater or film, regardless. I had a teacher in New York, Bill Esper, and he said, “If you’re here to be star, you better stop right now.” There are thousands of actors in the city, and many of them are very, very talented, and it’s a one in a million chance to be Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington. And that is not to say that they didn’t work hard, they worked very hard.

The big lesson is if you’re in this business, you have to be a little crazy, there has to be a couple of screws loose. It’s not like many other professions, where if you work hard you get promotions until you can retire. Just because you work hard doesn’t mean you’ll get a role you really want. You may. You may be perfect for the part. Or you may be too tall or “not the look”. But that is not in your control, and you need to accept that. You do it for the art’s sake because it fulfills you. In the meantime, you have to be certain that you’re doing this for the love of it because if not, you’ll go crazy in a bad way. It’s not right for some people.

CJ: How do you overcome self-doubt and stage fright?

LK: There is a lot of doubt. That is one of my biggest struggles. Regardless of the profession, just moving out of the house and doing things by yourself. Let’s face it, it’s New York City, and there are thousands of actors. It is so easy to come out of an audition, to get turned down by something, it’s so easy to give up and after being rejected so many times. And that’s where the doubt creeps in – it’s a seed. Things like doubt, jealousy, and hostility – these are all seeds that are monsters that feed off of themselves and they are a hard thing to stop.

It just comes down to the work. Because there’s so much competition if you look outside yourself. If you look outside yourself, you see a thousand other actors in this concrete jungle that wants to eat you alive. That’s what you see. If you look inside yourself, you have your goals, inner strength, and beauty. It’s hard, and I escape by going to parks and finding serenity. It’s a personal quest, and I don’t know where it ends but if you can turn your fear into excitement, you can do it.

CJ: What advice do you have for youth who want to be professional actors/actresses?

LK: I would give a good amount of time to just experiment. Actor training is great to mix in self-exploration in general because you’re working from yourself. Even if you find your calling elsewhere in the meantime, you’re learning about yourself. I’ve learned so much through my acting studies just about how I react to different situations. I would take that time to study and to learn about yourself and dive in 100%. Worst case scenario is that acting doesn’t really work for you but you’re no worse for ware. Rather you’re better off in the next path you take because you’ve taken the time to be introspective. Just as with other professions, but this one is particularly crazy, and the rewards are not so visible sometimes.

When you discover that seed of inspiration, seize it. There’s no saying you can’t try those things later, but at the moment, this is where your inspiration is, so go 110%. When you put in the work, that’s when you’ll find the rewards. There are a lot of actors in this city that don’t put in the work and doubt can seep in, but it’s good to fend those off. You have to go to the smallest little seed in your heart, and it’s there under all the smog of the city and the howling voices of doubt, and that’s the seed to listen to, because it can be very hard to hear it sometimes.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

LK: Each day is very different. I try to see each week as a balance between things. There are daily professional regimens, finding roles, looking for a new headshot, finding an agent, working on a website. You’re the salesman and the product and that’s a lot of work. When I have the opportunity, I block out time to work on the craft. It’s as simple as stretching or time alone and meditation.

CJ: What activities were you involved in throughout high school and college? Were there any experiences that were most memorable or life changing?

LK: I had always done theater. I very much enjoyed and miss my acapella group in college. I did not have that opportunity in high school. As a puny freshman, it was a good home base. With little projects and that cheering band behind you, I loved the music and the rowdiness.

CJ: Who is your role model?

LK: There are many artists that I admire in different trades. Some for their refusal to stifle their personality, some for their ability to go full-on into a role and into a character that is unlike themselves, and some just for their hard work. Depending on what my focus is on the time, my mind will drift to one of them. I’m thinking of Matt Damon right now. It’s cliché and he’s a big name artist and he’s one of the hottest actors out there. You hear a lot of stories of actors being discovered, that someone discovered a famous actor in the cereal section of the supermarket. That’s so rare.

I hear about Matt Damon’s story about him and Ben Affleck as teenagers taking the train down to New York on the weekend to audition. It was that dedication that is inspiring. I remember Matt Damon talking about going up to his teacher and asking him, “What is the secret? There’s gotta be some sort of secret!” The teacher says “Just do the work, kid.” Everyone is expecting a hand-me-down, and that’s not to say there’s not natural talent, but that’s raw and needs to be molded.

We all have our shortcomings, we get in our heads, and some of us have stage fright or trouble memorizing. There are all different personal problems. In a business this big, you have 100 people auditioning for the same part, and you want to be cuddled but really, no one cares what your problem is. It is upon yourself to do the work and get over it. Matt Damon did the work, he wrote his own stuff, he did minor roles, and he had the vision to look 10 years down the road and work towards what has yet to happen.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

LK: Get a haircut. Looking back on how I stuck to certain friends and interests, I would give the advice that there’s less reward in safety. As nice as that feels, it can be scary to do that as a 20-year-old when you have your group of friends. When you’re in high school and college and you see this looming graduation. A boat is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what boats are for. I am beginning to take bigger risks to get bigger rewards, and I’m willing to make a little bit of a fool out of myself or take a chance at that if there’s a chance at a good outcome. A friend once told me that “Even if fear is 100 feet tall and 100 feet wide, it’s only paper thin.” Take a chance and do something you wouldn’t have dreamed yourself doing.

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