CollegeCulture & TravelExploreStudy Abroad

Yes, there’s nightlife and accents and atmosphere in London. There’s food and fair weather and incredible tourism in Rome. There’s beer and history and astounding diversity in Berlin. But there’s no fantastic games of charades that must be played in order to communicate with those around you, and there’s no air pollution to make city sunsets burst with auburn red. In Western Europe, the biggest challenge you’ll likely face as a foreigner is adding up your pocket change to buy a pretzel from that street vendor.

There’s a whole world of places where obtaining enough or adequate food is a challenge. Not only for the global poor because they can’t afford it, but also for tourists and foreign students who do not lack the financial means to acquire a wholesome meal but do lack the requisite Malagasy, Khmer, Lao, or Hindi words in their vocabulary.

To put things in perspective, this is by no means an accurate representation of all regions where the global poor live and certainly no reason to avoid studying abroad in these places. While studying abroad in Europe could result in some of the most cathartic and formative experiences in your life, studying abroad somewhere else offers greater challenges and potentially greater payoffs. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to just avoid Western Europe altogether and seek the unorthodox elsewhere. Here are just five of them.

You’re exposed to ways of life (significantly) different from your own.

Studying, living, or simply being abroad somewhere in post-industrial Europe is, frankly, quite similar to studying, living, or simply being anywhere else in the post-industrial Western world. So you switch the language on signs from English to another and convert to the metric system. Good one. That must’ve been challenging with your smartphone’s built-in translation and conversion features.

Traveling to someplace other than this select group of nations is a crash course in dealing with discomfort. You won’t always be uncomfortable physically, but you will certainly be an outsider – this is a good thing. Being the outsider is a lesson in understanding the life ways of “the other.” Not everyone looks, acts, talks, eats, drinks, loves, and lives the way you do, and that’s alright.

You’re humbled.

When you study abroad anywhere other than Western Europe, you’re humbled because the people you never encountered until now are the most incredible humans you’ve ever met. You’re humbled not because you’re self-centered and pretentious, but because the hard work that others do on a daily basis is inspiring.

You’re humbled by the truth that life can be hard, and, while your problems are difficult (don’t doubt that #firstworldproblems are real problems), others’ problems are difficult too. Your cab driver from ashen, polluted, industrial Hubei Province crossed half of China to build a life for herself and her family. She is proof that, collectively, humans struggle, and, in our struggle, we empathetically understand one another.

You recognize your own privilege.

In comparison, life back home is relatively easy. There are fewer immediate concerns about your physical well being, potable water comes out the tap, and supermarket shelves are stocked. For at least some things in your life, you’ve got choices. That might not mean you’re rich, but in some respects you’ve been given a lot more than others.

These things are privilege. Though you might not share in the material wealth of your country, the fact that you come from a country with choices is privilege. The ability to study abroad or study at all is privilege. You might feel guilty or ashamed to benefit so arbitrarily, but with these feelings comes a blurry but powerful recognition of injustice and inequality.

You have the potential to become more passionate, interesting, and any other adjective you’d like to be described as.

When you’ve exposed yourself to new ways of life, let yourself be vulnerable, humbled, and privileged, you will start to develop the traits you wish you had. Living outside of the hyper-commercialized post-industrial world will, in a broad sense, expose your weaknesses, which you can subsequently address and repair, and your strengths, which you can enjoy and fortify. In many ways, you will find what you seek.

You begin to understand beauty.

Mountain scenes and rainforests are just part of what is beautiful in this world. Unexpected things like a bamboo steamer full of pork dumplings wrapped in paper-thin rice flour dough is beautiful. Rusted old structures in the middle of grassy fields and getting slightly lost (anywhere, in general) are both beautiful in their own ways. Making friends is beautiful. Traveling alone is beautiful. Many things are beautiful for many different reasons.

When you seek the unorthodox, you will start to perceive and understand the beautiful value in the world around you.

Image by Joshua Earle

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When it comes to following your heart, Kial Afton knows firsthand just how important that can be. After studying Communications, Philosophy, and International Studies at Boston College, Kial pursued a role as an NBC page by continually applying for a position and networking with as many people as she could. Her persistence paid off. Kial spent time as a Page and worked her way up the corporate ladder, and she is now the Corporate Events Manager at NBCUniversal.

While in college, Kial spent time studying Greek mythology, archaeology, architecture, and culture at The Athens Centre, in addition to spending a summer studying art, architecture, and philosophy at Venice International University. Though she didn’t know what to study at Boston College, she took advantage of the core curriculum required for freshmen and discovered topics that she loved and would ultimately major in.

We are inspired by Kial’s drive, her positive energy, and the advice she would share with her 20-year-old self: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Turns out that when you follow your heart, great things can happen.

Name: Kial Afton
Education: B.A. in Communications, Philosophy, and International Studies from Boston College

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

Kial Afton: Saying yes to every opportunity that presents itself. Stepping out of your comfort zone. Realizing it’s OK to be wrong – so long as you learn something from it.

CJ: You studied Communications, Philosophy, and International Studies at Boston College. How did you decide what to study?

KA: I didn’t. Boston College has a strong liberal arts, core curriculum required for freshmen, and this was extremely valuable to someone like me who wasn’t sure what to study.

Some of my favorite classes in the core curriculum—philosophy of existence, cultural communications, international conflict and cooperation—laid the foundation for what later became my majors. I took more advanced classes offered by my favorite professors in a few different areas, including those abroad.

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CJ: You’ve spent time studying Greek mythology, archaeology, architecture, and culture at The Athens Centre. You also spent a summer studying art, architecture, and philosophy at Venice International University. These experiences sound incredible! What were these experiences like and why did you choose to spend time in Athens and Venice?

KA: I absolutely studied some very interesting topics in Athens and Venice. What I learned the most from these experiences, however, happened outside of the classroom. Studying abroad for me was less about the topic than learning to understand the environment in which you’re living, growing to understand and respect different cultures, and making interpersonal connections with people you would never otherwise have the opportunity — from Alberto who sold me my daily gelato, to Caroline who had a similar major at her university in Munich!

CJ: What did your career path look like when you graduated from college?

KA: I followed my heart, which was the opposite of sensical. I spent senior year applying to NBC’s Page Program, but when I never got called to interview; I did the “responsible” thing and lined up a Boston-based Public Relations position to begin immediately following graduation. I was not excited for it or inspired by it.

When my sister in New York called to tell me her roommate was moving out, I did the least responsible thing I could image and moved to New York without a job—or at least a steady one.

I landed a part-time PR position immediately, but had to supplement my income and fill my free time with any odd job—extra work on 30 Rock and Law and Order, nannying, foot-modeling, and lastly as a “promotional marketer”—a fancy term for “passing out flyers on the street.”

All the while, I continued applying to the Page Program and networking with anyone in NBC who could stand another informational with me. Finally, it paid off.

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CJ: You spent some time as an NBC Page. What does being a Page mean, and what did your duties involve?

KA: If you’ve ever seen 30 Rock, an NBC Page is a real life version of Kenneth. Wearing Brooks Brothers’ uniforms—adorned with a name badge, pocket square and peacock pins—the primary job of a Page is to proudly lead countless studio tours and coordinate audiences for shows such as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live and The Dr. Oz Show. Pages work six days a week, twelve-plus hours each day and practically sleep at 30 Rock.

So why did I try so hard to become a Page? As Stuart Epstein, NBC’s CFO in 2011, told me on my first day, “The grey suit has the power to open any door.” And he was right. As a Page, you also have the opportunity to apply for 3-6 month assignments. I worked as the TODAY Show Green Room Page, and in marketing for NBC Sports & Olympics.

The Page Program exposes you to an array of opportunities and introduces you to some exceptional and influential people.

CJ: You are now the Corporate Events Manager at NBCUniversal. What does your role entail? What do your daily tasks look like?

KA: Building relationships with marketing, sales and top NBC Executives to gain a working knowledge of their needs and their clients’ needs in order to advance key initiatives. Once the parameters have been set, I’m given the creative freedom to research, develop, manage and execute special events across all NBCUniversal properties on a national and international scale.

CJ: You’ve been involved with events such as the Superbowl and the Olympics. What does the process look like for organizing these big events?

KA: One might think it would take an army to organize a 2,000+ client hospitality program. In actuality, it requires significant lead-time and having complete faith in your team and vendors. And adrenaline!

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CJ: What is the best part about your job? The hardest part?

KA: I work with amazing people. Blaise Cashen leads the Corporate Events Team, and is very selective in the hiring process. The team is therefore lean and mean and comprised of some of the most talented and devoted people I know.

The hard part—the hours! Finding work-life balance is challenging in any demanding company or career.

CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

KA: Lists, lists, and more lists! Shared calendars, outlook reminders, a notebook by the bedside, and more post-its than I’d like to admit keep me organized.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

KA: I look to sites like Pinterest and BizBash for inspiration. Developing vendor relations and networking with others in the industry, however, provide the building blocks needed to further my career.

CJ: When you are feeling overwhelmed or having a bad day, how do you like to unwind or reset?

KA: My calm is Murphy, my Dad’s rescue dog. Early mornings in Central Park and late evenings at Tomkins Square Dog Park keep me calm and grounded.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?

KA: I’m a member of Friends of Animal Rescue (to help others like Murphy) the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (to support my sister, Laine) and Planned Parenthood (I strongly support their mission).

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

KA: I’m working to build the professional confidence I’m capable of projecting but have a difficult time actually feeling. I’m working to remove the inner monologue, and never apologize for my opinions—I now have the experience to have both earned them, and stand by them!

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

KA: Don’t sweat the small stuff. It always works out and fretting about it only gives you grey hair (seriously).

Kial Afton Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

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

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Every year a handful of students are accepted to the George Washington University’s Seven-Year B.A./M.D. Program. What that means is that seniors in high school who know that they want to attend medical school after earning their undergraduate degrees apply to this highly selective program and earn both degrees in a shortened period of time. We know, it’s pretty crazy-impressive. We had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Payette, a member of this program, recent GWU undergrad alum, and current first year GWU Medical School student. He gave us the low-down on what it takes to get academic work done while balancing work responsibilities and personal time. While it’s no easy feat, Chris somehow manages it all and does it with a genuine smile on his face. From sharing his successful-study-secrets to details about his semester abroad in South Africa, Chris is without a doubt seizing his youth and making the most of every opportunity.

Name: Chris Payette
Age: 21
Education: B.S. from the George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences | The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Follow: LinkedIn

Carpe Juvenis: How would you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Chris Payette: Doing whatever you need to do right now that will set you up to be doing what you want to be doing later, whether it’s in the immediate now or in the future. So for me I think it’s much more for the future. Obviously right now I don’t necessarily want to be spending all of my time in the library studying, but – and I know this might sound slightly morbid – it’s a means to an end.

And also to make time for yourself and your friends and family. When you’re trying to make things the best for you, sometimes you don’t necessarily think about the whole picture, and other people’s happiness. But I think that it’s important to make time for the people you care about.

CJ: You knew from a young age that you wanted to study medicine, but what would you say to someone who doesn’t know what his or her passion is yet?

CP: Do everything. I do everything and it’s interesting because even though I’m in medical school I feel like there are so many other things I could do and be totally happy with. And it’s nice to know that even though I have a set path, there are so many other things I would be super happy to do. I’ve worked at restaurants for a while now, and I know that if anything ever happened with the medical stuff I would be happy waiting tables. I think that not having a diverse experience limits you. By trying a little bit of everything you can find what you like, and if you don’t know yet then you should keep trying everything.

CJ: What tools do you use to keep yourself organized and on track?

CP: Notability. iCalendar. Honestly so many. I try to reevaluate where I’m at and where I need to be at the end of every day, just so I can know where I am for the week, where I am for the month, where I am for my next exam, where I am for the next social event I want to go to. For example if I have a lot of friends in town and I know that I’ll want to set aside Saturday and Sunday to just see people, I’ll do extra schoolwork during the week based on how my overall schedule looks.

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CJ: How do you prepare for medical school exams?

CP: First I go through all of my lecture notes individually. I compile all of the “learning objectives” from each lecture and sort them into files based on what I think would be best to study together. Then I go through each learning objective and I add in everything pertinent from the lecture into one lengthy document. I include images as well. I go back to that document about two weeks before an exam and transcribe that onto one hand-written page. That page is what I use up until the exam to study – I really condense the information.

I use so many tools for this process – my suite of Microsoft tools, my Apple tools, my favorite Sharpie fine point pens and white printer paper. I just started using this system in med school and it’s been going really well. It’s good because it makes me first synthesize the data, and then condense it and get the most important pieces from it. That study sheet is when I really have to master the material, because one sheet can take one to two hours to make. A lot of it is just planning.

CJ: You went into college knowing that you would also be going to medical school – did you ever have moments of panic/anxiety about that decision? How did you overcome that?

CP: I get really excited about things. So there will be times when I get excited about one thing and think “I want to pursue that! That should be my job!” And knowing that it wouldn’t be, since I was already accepted into medical school, was weird sometimes. I went into high school in a magnet science program, so basically by eighth grade I was already committing to medicine. Which is good because I’ve always known that this would be my path, but it’s also challenging to think that in undergrad had I not already been accepted to medical school, might my path have totally changed?

I think for me personally it’s good that I have that structure, and I think that at the same time it gave me the freedom to have those moments of exploring other things because I knew that once I was in medical school I would have required responsibilities. So for example my research in undergrad was totally unrelated to medicine, my jobs were unrelated to medicine, volunteering was not clinical at all. I didn’t do one clinical thing at all in undergrad. So I had that time and ability to purposefully explore while I had the opportunity.

CJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

CP: Wow, I don’t know. That’s tough. One big thing that has always stuck with me is that my dad always tells me that regardless of being on the medical track, I can still do whatever I want. I think that a lot of people are pushed in one way by their parents, but my parents’ professions are not medically related at all. So it’s nice knowing that if at any time I don’t want to do what I’m doing anymore, hearing that out loud from my parents has helped me feel a little bit freer. Just knowing that I can pursue whatever I want in my career has been very comforting.

CJ: What advice would you give to a freshman starting the same 7-year program you are part of?

CP: Do everything that you want to do. You’re already accepted to medical school, you have your future laid out, so right now is your time to travel and see your friends and family. It’s your time to make art, go outside, be able to do stupid things and ask for guidance. That’s another thing – not that there’s no guidance when you graduate, but when you’re in undergrad there are built-in systems of support to hold your hand and help you get through college. So seek help, get mentors. There are no office hours when you graduate. The only office you’ll get to go to once you graduate is your boss’.

CJ: How did you get involved with Street Sense as in intern?

CP: I took a lot of service learning course at GWU because one of the things that’s expected of you going into the medical field is to always have volunteer experience. I like doing service learning because it’s was a really easy way to integrate that into my life and schedule. During my last year of undergrad I took an urban sociology class and that’s how I got connected with Street Sense. From there we created a role where I was in charge of social media. So I worked not only with the people who sell the newspaper, but also with the administrative back end. I really liked it so I stayed a little bit longer after the semester ended and worked with them in a larger capacity. It was an amazing experience – you get to meet a lot of really interesting people when you’re working with the homeless community.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

CP: Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk.

CJ: Despite being in a shortened 3 year undergraduate program, you still made the time to study abroad in South Africa – what compelled you to make the choice and how has it influenced you?

CP: I went to South Africa the summer after I did a GWU orientation program. The summer had been a lot of DC and a lot of GWU. It just felt like too much. I needed to spend the semester away, so I applied to go abroad. And I decided very last minute – my parents mailed me my passport the week before applications were due. I really just needed a semester away to experience somewhere different and travel without doing it during the summer. I followed my instinct to go somewhere. I would go back in a heartbeat – I’m already trying. Certain programs at my school require you to travel and work abroad, so I definitely think ill go back at some point.

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

CP: It depends. My schedule varies day to day because of classes. Some days I’ll go to class at 8AM and end around 6PM, even 8PM. Other days I have independent study so I’ll wake up, make a cup of coffee, sit in my living rom and study. I’ll usually stay after class in the library most days just to do a little extra. I also work at Cove because I can get work done, and at a restaurant some nights. I try to have most of what I’m doing planned out a few weeks in advanced.

CJ: What advice would you give your 17-year-old self?

CP: Start exercising now, because when you’re 21 your metabolism will stop. And also do whatever you want. But seriously, exercise. I took a health class freshman year and one of our assignments was to make a behavior change. Mine was to start running, and I’ve been running ever since.

Chris Payette Qs

Culture

When I moved to Washington, D.C. eight months ago for a Capitol Hill internship in a Senator’s office, my mom told me I should keep my options open and that I could stay for the summer if the opportunity arose. I immediately pushed the idea aside. I had a job as a summer teller at a credit union waiting for me at home in upstate New York. It paid pretty well, wasn’t stressful, and I liked my coworkers. I couldn’t see giving up a sure thing. Plus, I had just finished a semester abroad in Denmark and I figured that by the end of the semester I would be more than ready to just have a relaxing “last summer at home before I graduate from college.”

Less than a month later I had been asked to stay and work in the Senator’s campaign office after my official Hill internship ended in May.

I definitely struggled with this choice, although almost all the outside advice that I got was to go for it. Ultimately, I listened to those voices and felt that I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to continue working on issues that interest me and for a person who I believe in. The opportunity to beef up my resume sweetened the deal.

Ultimately, once this opportunity arose I knew it wouldn’t be smart to turn it down. I can say for sure that I don’t want to be a bank teller “when I grow up.” I don’t know exactly what I what I want to be, but I do know that my time in our nation’s capital inspired me to want more for myself and I felt like I fit. For the first time I was surrounded by other people my age that wanted to talk about politics, or what was going on in the world, or what made us happy or mad or sad. Our elected officials, even in the midst of the “do-nothing congress,” inspired me, and I had the opportunity to see them in person, passionately speaking on important issues in hearings or on the Senate floor. I rode in an elevator with John McCain and I ran into Barbara Boxer struggling with her luggage at Union Station. For a political science nerd like myself, it was heaven.

hannah cohen CJ pic 1

My experience had low points as well. At the end of the spring semester, most of the amazing friends that I made left for the summer. Some of the new-ness of the experience wore off and reality set in. I decided that I wanted to come back to DC after I graduate in December, but I started to realize how many amazing, smart, talented people have the same plan that I do. It is definitely not going to be easy to move back to a city where I don’t know many people and try to start a life. The blueprint I have in my head for that life is definitely blurrier now than it was in March or April.

Here’s what I know: I’m going to give it a shot. The past eight months have been an experiment in stepping outside of my comfort zone. This is not something I have been historically known to do, but I decided it was time for me to make a little bit of an effort. I have also had to stop and cut myself some slack and remember that I am only twenty years old and I have time to figure things out. There have been moments where I have been so uncomfortable or nervous that I wanted to quit, but I have gotten through those moments and I am proud of myself for that. So that is the headspace I am trying to maintain. A lot of smart people have told me to have a plan, but to be flexible, because life is an unpredictable beast. As I start my last semester as an undergrad and make plans for afterwards, I am keeping that in mind.

EducationTravel

When I was seventeen and deciding where I wanted to go to college I had no idea what I wanted. I did not care if I went to a city school or a school in the middle or nowhere. I had no preference if the school was big or small. The only qualification I was sure of was that I wanted to go to a school that offered study abroad. I am currently a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where over 50% of the student body chooses to study abroad. I am a Psychology major and Creative Writing minor and though I’m not sure exactly what I want to do after I graduate, my main goal in life has always been to help others. I am currently interning at a non-profit called Split This Rock, which is an organization that brings together poetry and social injustice in the U.S. Capitol. I am a strong believer in astrology and as a Libra I am always striving to find balance in my life. My interests include OPI nail polish, French onion soup, American Horror Story, instagramming my food, journaling, and of course…travel.

This past spring I made the decision to study abroad in Beijing, China. Studying abroad is an unforgettable experience no matter which country you choose to go to, but it’s still very important to decide on the best program for you. Many factors led to me to study abroad in Beijing through The Alliance for Global Education (Alliance). Most importantly I knew I wanted to study in China so I could practice my Chinese language skills, but I was unsure about the exact city: Beijing or Shanghai? I ended up picking Beijing because it has much more traditional culture and history than Shanghai, which has become very Western and modernized.

AB china 4

Another factor that led me to choose Alliance over other study abroad programs was its size. My abroad program only hosted 11 students, while many other programs had nearly 100. I thought that a small program would be more manageable (though at times I did wish it was bigger). I think 30 people would have been perfect. I also decided to pick Alliance because it offered two weeks off for travel, and I knew that seeing other parts of China was another top priority.

I also wanted to consider the intensity of language learning; I picked a program that required attending Chinese language class every day, but my other classes were taught in English and were less rigorous. I did not want to take a hugely intensive class load because I also wanted to have time to go out and explore, rather than being stuck inside studying all the time.

I spent four months studying abroad and while I really enjoyed it there were also a lot of things I learned. If I could redo my experience, here are the main tips I would follow:

1. Make friends with locals.

This is something I definitely wish I had done more of. Join clubs at your study abroad university, approach people in the cafeteria, and go to bars with more locals than Americans. You may feel out of your comfort zone, but that’s the point!

2. Eat everything.

Try new foods; eat things even when you don’t know what they are (as long as they as deemed safe for you to ingest). On my third day in Beijing, I tried fried silk worms… and then spit them out on the street. But hey, at least I tried!

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3. Travel alone and travel as much as possible.

Don’t be scared! Take a weekend trip out of the city by yourself and you won’t regret it. Traveling alone is a great way to meet new people and find yourself. That being said, when you’re traveling alone you must be aware and be cautious. When I took a weekend trip alone to Qingdao I ended up in a questionable and unsafe situation (thankfully it all ended up alright and I’m here to tell you about it, but that’s not always the case). In short, I ended up spending the entire day with, and dependent on, strangers for transportation because of a language miscommunication that occurred in the morning. Luckily these strangers ended up being very nice people and I returned to my hostel safely at the end of the day. From this situation I learned that it is key to be aware so that you don’t put yourself in a dangerous position. However, this experience also taught me that following your instinct while also taking those precautions can allow for unique experiences.

4. Be open to the new culture.

One big problem many people talk about when they are preparing to go abroad is “culture shock”. I think that this is a problem that is very easy to avoid as long as you come into your study abroad experience with an open mind. You should know that things aren’t going to be like they are in America, so don’t compare everything back to that! You aren’t in America so of course things will be different, but you should embrace them before your time in this country comes to an end.

5. Embrace all the unique things your abroad city has to offer.

Explore more than just the tourist attractions. Find websites that post events happening in your city each weekend (it took me way too long to start doing this). Plus once you make friends with locals, go out with them! They will know better than any website.

6. Put down your cell phone!

Stop searching for wi-fi. Shut the phone down. Your friends from back home will still be there when you get back, but you will never be back in this city, at this age, with these people EVER AGAIN! Disconnect and you will become a more relaxed person and be more immersed in your abroad experience.

AB china 3

7. Befriend people you wouldn’t necessarily approach back home.

Accept your new friends for who they are and learn to love people for their differences.

8. Speak the language, no matter what.

If you are in a city with a non-native language, speak the new language as much as possible. Don’t be nervous or embarrassed—I wasted so much time letting other people speak Chinese for me because I was embarrassed of my language skills. This is the only way you will improve! You might get laughed at, but most of the time people are really nice when they see that you’re trying.

Don’t set your expectations of abroad too high or get stressed about trying to accomplish everything you want to do in a short period of time. Although you should try to travel and make the most of your time abroad, if you are spreading yourself too thin you will end up stressed and not able to enjoy your time.

9. Keep a journal!

Write down everything that you experience so you’ll never forget this once in a lifetime experience.

Happy travels!

Image: Courtesy of Alex Borden

SkillsTravel

There are a lot of ways to travel. For those of us who are perpetually short on cash, our travel usually won’t consist of beach resorts, luxury cruises, and designer shopping sprees. We won’t ever sit in first class and chances are we’ll get used to bunking in a hostel’s shared room.

For me, that’s part of the beauty of it all. Backpacker hostels or locals’ couches, public transportation and street food make for authentic experiences. Tiny obstacles, like bumpy night buses and confusing street signs, create challenges; they make you a little more vulnerable and open you up to asking for help. The opportunities that come with travel on a budget are so much more fulfilling than the ones that come with all-inclusive, first-class vacays.

I’ve certainly traveled on a budget. As a semester exchange student in Singapore, I survived on my savings, traveling about every other weekend. I had a few close calls, and by the time I arrived back on U.S. soil at the end of it all, I had $34 to my name. There were a lot of mistakes and lessons learned, along with some budgeting successes.

I recently shared many tips on traveling on a super low budget; aka, almost no money. Those involved a lot of working abroad. These tips, though, are all about spending every ounce of your free time soaking in your journey, and doing it on a dime.

Some of these tips are conventional, others you won’t exactly find in travel magazines. In the end, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. First of all, travel must be your priority.

If you want to travel but don’t have the money, it’s because you’re spending yours on other things. Every job I’ve ever held has paid me hourly, sometimes below minimum wage. But, I saved all of my money because I knew I wanted to do something sweet with it. I didn’t buy clothes, get my nails done, go out to eat nightly… I saved.

Take a page from my book – buy some wardrobe staples that you love, preferably from a thrift or consignment shop, and don’t spend on clothes for the rest of the year. Invest in some nail polish and remover and never get your nails done (or do it like me and have cavewoman nails year round). Invest in things that keep you from spending money long-term. It works, my friends.

2. Make every flight count.

Enroll in frequent flyers and rewards programs with an airline. You can end up redeeming your miles or points for free flights.

3. Night buses and trains are your friends.

Only fly regionally if you absolutely have to, and when you do, use Skyscanner.com to find the best budget fares. Chances are, though, you’ll be able to ride a bus or train from location to location, and night transportation doubles as transportation and lodging: score.

4. Similarly, public transportation is key.

For the love of money, don’t take cabs. Find a subway or public transportation map and get out there. It can be intimidating to step on a bus or train for the first time in a new city, so a few minutes of preliminary research can help – know the fares, which lines to take and which stops you want. If you’re going to be somewhere for a week or more, investing in a multi-day or -week pass is your best bet.

5. Rent bikes.

Many cities offer bike and motorcycle rentals. Depending on the length of your stay, this can pay off. You will save on cabs, bus fares and other transportation costs, besides gas if you go the motorized route. Plus, you aren’t at the mercy of a tour group or driver, and can go wherever.

6. Take a granola bar.

Or five. Plus a refillable water bottle (a simple way to save, unless your destination’s water is unsafe for you to drink out of tap, then you’ll have to splurge on bottled water). Pack small snacks that can double as meals. I’m a foodie – I really am, but eating bars for breakfast has never ruined any of my trips, and it’s freed up a lot of cash. Speaking of…

7. Buy groceries and use the local food markets.

Because you should be staying in hostels or locals’ apartments (more on that in a second), which almost always have kitchen areas. If they don’t, buy no-cook items, such as bread and lunch meat. Foodies, you can get creative with local ingredients, too, because local food markets have great deals on ingredients and staples that often aren’t available fresh or authentic in the U.S.

8. Make friends.

Local friends or friends who have been in your location for an extended stay (a couple weeks or so) can often recommend or take you to the best cheap restaurants, connect you with their cousins who can get you drink deals (or some similar scenario), even give you a place to stay or cook.

9. Speaking of drink deals. Facebook groups.

Join them. Facebook groups, such as Hazel’s Guestlist in Singapore, provides incredible deals, discounts and even VIP access for its members. It’s free to join these, and there are usually no strings attached. They just want foreigners checking out their nightlife and attractions.  Obviously use your best judgment; it’s pretty easy to tell if the group is a weird scam. And don’t post any of your personal information or whereabouts in these groups.

These groups are often promoted to exchange students because they’re easy to reach, so do a little stalking on Facebook. Find exchange student groups in your area; if they aren’t completely private, you may be able to see what discount websites and Facebook groups the students post between each other or that promoters post within the groups. Then, join them. Easy as pie, and it’s safe and allowed.

10. Stay in shared rooms in hostels.

This requires you to get comfortable with a little less privacy. It isn’t as invasive as it sounds, though. Most hostels offer the option for same-gender rooms and you will almost always receive a locker to stow your belongings. These rooms are usually very cheap, and in many regions and countries, cheap doesn’t mean dingy or unsafe. In fact, in most of Southeast Asia, we found sparkly clean, well-managed, very safe hostels for a few dollars a night.

The amenities are generally basic; you may have to bring your own towel and Wi-Fi is often non-existent. This is budget travel, we can’t have everything, and usually at good hostels you get way more than you expect for the price. Besides, friendly people, clean running water and a cozy roof over the head for a couple bucks a night is a true gift. Ask around, use Trip Advisor, or invest in a travel guidebook to point out the best hostels in your area.

11. Better yet, couch surf.

Couch surfing is free. I mentioned it in my previous article, and it really is a fantastic resource. Many of my friends have done this and spoken highly of their experiences.

12. Utilize hostel resources.

A good hostel won’t scam you. Obviously do your math when the front desk guy offers you a tour package, but excursions are often offered at discounts at backpacker hostels. Befriend the front desk people, too, because they can very easily get you some sweet deals and discounts. Just let them know what you’re into and get to know them. It’s fun anyways, because people who work in hostels are usually pretty interesting and magical.

13. Student IDs.

If you are a student, or still look young and have your student ID (pretend I didn’t say that), use it. There are student discounts and freebies everywhere. Be aware, though, that American student IDs may not be recognized in all the countries you visit; still harmless and worth a try.

14. International Student Identity Card.

You can register for these online and they come with discounts on travel and excursions.

15. Groupon.

It can be hit or miss, but if you find something you really want to do on Groupon’s site, it’s fantastic. Most countries have their own Groupon site. As a hint, read the fine print. I recommend not using Groupons for travel deals, because travel agencies and other involved parties usually hide the massive extra fees. Other stuff is fair game.

16. Set a budget.

Know what you want to do, and plan a little beforehand. You don’t need to map out a detailed itinerary, but know generally how much transportation costs within and to/from the places you want to go, where you can find cheap lodging, etc. Allocate the amount you want to spend per day, or per activity, and stick to it.

Generally, travel’s main expenses come in the form of lodging, transportation and food. Hopefully the tips above help minimize those expenses while allowing you to have an incredible journey.

Bon voyage!

Image: Buck Lewis, Flickr

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

We are thrilled to introduce you to Melissa Minton, a full-time student at the George Washington University, President of GWU’s Epsilon Sigma Alpha chapter, Her Campus Correspondent and Co-Editor-in-Chief of GWU Branch, and content intern at Birchbox and Birchbox Man. Whew. We know that’s a lot to get through, but that’s what makes Melissa so awesome – she keeps herself open to opportunities and then utilizes them when she has the chance.

It’s certainly not easy being a full-time student and juggling a handful of other pressing responsibilities, so we asked Melissa to provide us with some insight into how she does it all and still has time for herself! If you want to find out organization tips, learn more about securing incredible internships (Melissa has previously interned at the National Press Club, ELLE Magazine, and De*Nada Design, to name a few), or be inspired by this multi-tasking master, read on!

Name: Melissa Minton
Age: 20
Education: B.A. from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in the School of Media and Public Affairs from George Washington University
Follow: Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

MM: I think seizing your youth means actively searching for new experiences and opportunities. Nothing is going to be handed to you unless you’re going out and searching for it. Even if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, just be open. And if there is an opportunity that falls in your lap, say yes. Always say yes until you have to say no.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 13 year old self?

MM: Don’t downplay your passions and don’t worry about what other people think. I would probably still need to follow the latter even today, but when I was 13 I thought that reading and writing and fashion were just hobbies. It wasn’t until I realized that putting my three passions together could make for a great career that I started to really hone in on that. Also, I wish my 13 year old self knew that bangs aren’t a good look for me.

CJ: What is the benefit or downfall of having such different internship experiences?

MM: I think that in today’s work environment, you need variety. Especially in the media industry you have to be able to do everything yourself. I chose the internships that I’ve had because they all have to do with media, but I learned about different facets of the industry with each experience. You’re never going to be able to explore your interests as thoroughly as when you have different internships, so I think it’s a major benefit to have unique experiences. However, it could be seen as a downfall for the future if you don’t sell your skills in an interview, so before you start an internship you should always know what you want to get out of it.

CJ: What three traits do you think make an outstanding intern?

MM: Willingness to do anything, thinking ahead for your boss, and enthusiasm.

CJ: If you could pinpoint one common thread through all of the work you’ve done to secure your internships, what would it be?

MM: In order to secure internships, being really professional and thorough in every contact you have with your potential future employer is key, whether that be email, phone, or in person. You want to come off as friendly, but I think employers respect professionalism in a young person. If you’re able to point out what skills you’ve used in the past that will be useful to them in an eloquent way, you’ll never be rejected. I like to think that I’ve done that for all the internships I’ve secured.
melissa CJ 2

CJ: You are a student at the School of Media and Pubic Affairs at GWU. What does your major involve and how did you decide what to study?

MM: My major is Journalism and Mass Communications and I am absolutely in love with it. I didn’t discover the program until my sophomore year after trying out classes that interested me. I was taking classes focused on culture and thought I might go into American Studies, but ultimately figured out that I wanted a more real world perspective rather than analytical. As a Journalism major I learn about not only many theories behind how the media industry works, but also skills such as video editing, and lots of writing in different styles. It’s a very hands-on major but also backed up by knowledge of theories.

CJ: What have you learned from your experience as a Her Campus Co-EIC?

MM: I think one of the biggest take-aways for me is that writing is very personal, but the entire process takes a village. From coming up with ideas, weeding through the good and bad, drafting, editing, posting, promoting on social, the process is in constant motion and no one person can lay claim to all of that work.

CJ: What kind of responsibilities do you have as President of ESA?

MM: As President of ESA, I am essentially the brain that works all of the different appendages. I use what I’ve learned in my past years on the executive board of ESA to map out our future, our goals, and objectives, then trust my e-board members to do the muscle work. I’m pretty type A when it comes to organization, so I task myself with mapping out timelines and due dates and checking in on progress. There are lots of nitty gritty details, but basically I get to conceptualize what I want the organization to look and feel like, which is really satisfying.

CJ: Did you choose to study abroad in college? Why or why not?

MM: Unfortunately, with the requirements of my major, I wasn’t able to do a semester abroad, but I was happy that I found a short term study abroad option. I took a class called “Globalization in Media” in which the class met on campus during the semester, and then went to Paris for 10 days of spring break and had lots of amazing speakers and seminars. I’m so happy that at least I was able to experience that. Not going abroad for an entire semester is definitely my biggest regret!

CJ: You are a student, an organization leader, an intern with multiple groups – How do you create a strong work-life balance (socially and personally balanced with professional goals)?

MM: I think that’s a challenge for everyone and I’d be lying if I said I had achieved it. One of my role models, Ann Shoket, said in an interview with The Every Girl that “There is no balance. You have to embrace the mess.” I think that’s true. I try to do everything in moderation and on a schedule. I like to do recurring tasks on the same day at the same time weekly so that I won’t forget. But, flexibility is also key. Sometimes you’re too tired to do extra work, and sometimes you need to push and get something done instead of relax. I think the balance between regiment and flexibility is the key to balance between personal and work priorities. That’s a long way of saying that I try to embrace the mess.melissa CJ 3

CJ: What are your best organization tips?

MM: I’m always trying to find new apps or programs I can use to be more productive and organize, but it always goes back to pretty simple things for me. To do lists and iCal are my best friends. If every night you write down all of the things you have to do the next day you’ll wake up feeling more in control and ready to cross things off the list. I’m also crazy about color coding and timelines.

CJ: Would you have done anything differently during your college experience looking back with 20/20 hindsight?

MM: I do wish that I had found the School of Media and Public Affairs sooner, but I probably would not have been able to take some of the really cool classes I took freshman year. I think every upperclassmen wishes they took advantage of their freshmen year more, but that’s what it’s for – to be a buffer time between high school and real college work. I always wish that I had gone abroad for a semester as well, that is one thing I am sad about.

CJ: What motivates you?

MM: I’m motivated by the strong women that have the jobs I want. Seeing someone else doing what you want to do is the best way to motivate yourself to get there eventually.

CJ: Where do you see yourself going next?

MM: Hopefully after I graduate I’ll be in New York City.

CJ: When you aren’t busy working and studying, what do you enjoy doing?

MM: Recently I’ve gotten really into painting and drawing and I want to learn how to throw pottery. I like anything creative. Also, watching reality TV will always be my un-guilty pleasure.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

MM: If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone

CJ: What is the best piece of college related advice you would give to your 18-year-old self?

MM: Don’t do anything just because everyone else is. And conversely, just because no one is doing something doesn’t mean you should stay away from that either. Do whatever you want to do.

Melissa Minton Qs

SkillsTravel

Last week I talked about choosing a study abroad location. Choosing where in the world to go is exciting, but nothing can kill a study abroad dream quite like a look at the program price tag. Money doesn’t have to be your deciding factor, though. There are some things you can do to get funding and minimize – even eliminate – what you’ll have to spend on your program.

1. Scholarships

Study abroad scholarships are offered in a variety of capacities, including merit-based, student-specific (i.e. minority scholarships), destination-specific, program-specific (your home or destination school or program may offer scholarship options), and subject-specific (very common for language study, but also available for almost any area of study).

Studyabroad.com offers an extensive database of study abroad scholarships, and the Institute of International Education offers good search options for destination and subject-specific scholarships.

It’s important to pay attention to deadlines; many study abroad scholarships require early action. There are, of course, some that you can apply for on a rolling basis, with little time before you leave.

2. Study Abroad Loans

You can find a database of study abroad student loans here. The great thing about study abroad loans is that transportation and cultural excursions are eligible expenses.

3. Crowdfunding Websites

GoFundMe – This website is amazing. It allows you to quickly and easily set up a fundraising page with a goal, photo and description, and makes it easy for people to donate to the page. Another great crowdfunding website is GoGetFunding.com. Once you’ve created your page, share it via social media and email to all your family and friends, asking them to support you in your dream to study abroad.

In your email, it will help to lay out what exactly your expenses are, what their donations will be funding, and your study abroad goals/things you want to experience. Providing a suggested amount (keep it low so people aren’t deterred), and list what exactly that amount will cover (i.e. a week of groceries, an unlimited train pass, etc.) And of course, be sure to thank everyone and offer the option to pass on donating. You can even request that they share it with other friends.

You can select either a personal funding campaign or an all-or-nothing campaign. The all-or-nothing contains a goal and time limit, while the personal funding does not. With all-or-nothing, you only get donations if you reach your goal, whereas you get all donations from a personal funding campaign.

4. Find an exchange program

I did this, meaning my school exchanged me for a student from the school at which I studied. The reason this option rocked so much was that I had no added costs to my university tuition (besides my flight); my costs actually were lower because I didn’t have to pay my university’s housing or meal plan, plus all of my regular university scholarships still applied in addition to an extra study abroad one. Check with your university to see whether it has exchange programs, and how fees are allocated.

5. Holiday Gift Requests

Send out a mass email, e-card or letter to all family members and friends who typically give you birthday or Christmas gifts. Let them know that in lieu of gifts, you’re asking for funds to go abroad.

Like GoFundMe, list your expenses and goals, and why it’s so important to you to go abroad. You could even list interesting facts about your university and location; that gets people excited.

6. Local fundraising

This works well in smaller towns or suburbs. Ask local restaurants or businesses, particularly those that you spend time at often, to place a donation jar at the counter. While this won’t earn you outrageous amounts of cash, it is an effortless way to earn some extra spending money.

Be sure to leave an info sheet by the jar or can explaining what the fundraising is for and why it’s important to you.

7. Garage sale

Any type of sale is great, but I hosted a garage sale before my trip and made $600 from it. That paid for two months’ rent (my student housing was cheap) and it also helped me de-clutter, so it was a win-win. Hosting various sales, like art sales, bake sales, book sales etc. may, again, not earn you mass sums of money but can get you some good spending money.

If you really have a lot of stuff and your sales do well, you can even earn enough to cover your round-trip flight to and from your host country and more.

8. Odd jobs

Walk dogs, mow lawns, photograph events, babysit… anything you’re good at that can bring in some extra cash. All it takes is a little simple networking and some flyers.

So, between scholarships, loans and personal fundraising, you may be able to raise enough to study completely cost-free.

What tips do you have for funding a study abroad experience? Any creative ways to make money?

Image: Kristina Zuidema, Flickr

CultureEducationTravel

Studying abroad is a big, fantastic, life-changing decision. Kudos to you for making the choice to do it, but now you’ve got a question to answer for yourself: where will I go?

During my junior year of college, I left my little North Carolina university for a semester as an exchange student at a university in Singapore, where I knew no one, about as far across the globe as I could possibly go. Choosing such an unfamiliar location was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but it wasn’t the easiest.

Some people, like me, are all over the map with potential locations and take a little time to choose the right place. I’ve compiled a list of 10 questions that I consider important to ask about each potential location when making the decision on where you’ll spend the next mini chapter of your life:

1. What is my goal? What do I want to get out of this experience?

Do you want to learn a language or discover new cultures? Escape your comfort zone? Explore incredible nightlife? Meet new people, or remain with current classmates/close friends? Volunteer? Travel easily? While the questions below will guide you in determining the program that meets your academic, social, travel and financial needs, answering them is no use without first having an idea of what you truly want to gain from your experience, and how far out of your comfort zone you’d like to go.

2. What are the potential host countries’ official language(s)?

Do you speak it/them? Do the universities or programs you’re considering offer classes in English, or only the host language? Can you enroll in language lessons?

3. How  are the potential host countries’ political climate?

Is the country and its region fairly stable and safe, particularly for people of your nationality? People are people no matter where you go, and no matter the situation. Danger is not alwaysas imminent as the media likes us to believe (don’t tell your parents I said that). However, safety is vital, political climates can change quickly, and even if they don’t necessarily affect safety, they can affect your ability to do things such as travel, stay out late, etc. The UN and your country’s embassy sites are informative in these situations.  

4. How are the social dynamics?

Is the country LGBTQIA friendly? Are gender roles significantly different there than in your home country? Is it safe and respectful to openly practice your religion there? How are people from  your country generally treated? Is partying and/or drinking normal or frowned upon?

5. What about cost of living?

Are you funding the experience yourself or with help? How much can you spend on it? Are scholarships available? Check out factors like public transportation, food and drink, leisure and cultural, and rent costs. It may actually be very possible to live significantly more cheaply as a student than you’d expect. (While Singapore’s cost of living is very high, research showed me it was fairly simple to keep my costs low using student housing, public transit, groceries, duty-free stores and on-campus food canteens.)

6. What amenities are available?

Will you be using toilets or holes in the ground? Is running water available for showers, laundry etc.? WiFi? What, if any, western-style amenities are you willing to forego?

7. What about food and drinks?

What is the local diet? (Noodles, glutinous sticky rice or Indian and Malaysian breads were in almost every meal I ate in Singapore – it would have been difficult were I gluten free.) Know how well your allergies will be accommodated and whether you’re willing to try unfamiliar meats, veggies and more. How available is clean water? You’ll almost always be able to find bottled and clean options, particularly if studying through a university or established program, but it’s good to at least have an idea how easily you can do that.

8. How’s the weather?

Know your potential locations’ climates, and how important weather is to you. (A friend of mine considered study only in Scandinavian nations because he absolutely loves the cold.)

9. How easily can I travel?

Seeing the world is a big reason many of us study abroad. Can you take buses and trains inexpensively for weekend trips? What is your proximity to other destinations? What budget airlines travel through your location and region?

10. CULTURE?!

Were you wondering if I was ever going to list this one? It felt like a no-brainer, so I almost didn’t. If you don’t have one standout culture that interests you, ask yourself other questions. Do you love the study of religion? Interested in architecture? History? Art? Fashion? Choose a location rich in the things that pique your curiosity and interest.

Tips:

  • Reach out to people who studied in your program: your university will often be able to connect you – just ask. I did this and it gave me lots of insider tips. Most of us love talking about our study abroad experiences, plus, we can tell you things the websites and advisors won’t.
  • ProCon it: a list of potential goods and bads can help you organize your thoughts if you’re really struggling to figure out where you want to be.
  • Don’t freak out: you will have a life-changing experience if you let yourself. The location will affect how your life is changed, and in what ways, but it’s very hard to go wrong in that department.

Study abroad is fun, mind-opening and challenging, and your decision to do it is the most important one! So enjoy the decision making process; put thought into it, but don’t over-analyze. Listen to your heart, and you’ll end up in the right place for you.

Next week, I’ll cover the important topic of financing a study abroad trip.

What suggestions do you have for choosing a study abroad location? Comment below!

Image: Dominik S., Flickr

ExploreFinanceSkillsTravel

Most of us want to travel the world, yet so few of us actually do it. We plan to save up, but somehow we just can’t stretch our dollars; we spend them on stuff before we can spend them on trips.

Having traveled through much of Southeast Asia (and a few other countries) on a very limited budget, I have met travel experts with lots of advice, and developed my own money saving tricks. Next week I will share my budget travel tips, but this article is about traveling with almost no money and either cutting out certain expenses (accommodations, food and transportation), or earning money while traveling.

I read a very accurate quote that went something like, “if you want to travel, you either have to spend time or money.” If you’re willing to sacrifice a little time so you can soak in unfamiliar cultures, see the world, meet new people and grow, these options could be for you.

1. Hostel Work Exchange

These jobs often offer free housing (and sometimes meals) in exchange for work, or they will simply pay you hourly. Hostel jobs are fairly competitive, so if possible, it is suggested to arrive in a location a bit before peak seasons for less stress. (i.e. before May or June in New York)

This site offers forums for job seekers and hostel employers to post opportunities. Hostel Management is another good hostel job search site.

2. Teach English Abroad

Teaching is quite a commitment, so this option is not for those who are iffy about that.

Most salaried positions last at least a year. Many schools will pay for housing among other amenities, and some (primarily in Asia) will even cover the flights to and from the host country. Some locations pay better than others. I have friends who have paid off student loans and traveled Asia with the salaries they made in South Korea.

Getting a certification to teach English (TEFL) is not always required but will both prepare you and bump up your salary. The following sites can get you certified and/or placed:

Oxford Seminars: Awesome. Pricey TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certification, but it includes classroom instruction, a practicum, a massively extensive database of schools in hundreds of countries and three textbooks to help you along the way. Plus, awesome like-minded classmates that can become travel buddies. As a former Oxford Seminars student, I recommend this wholeheartedly.

CIEE: I haven’t used this, but it’s a very reputable and reliable program that many friends have used to both teach and study abroad. They provide training and an optional TEFL certification.

People Recruit: This sends people directly to South Korea. A friend’s brother used this and had a great experience with it. It does not include a TEFL certification as Korea doesn’t require it.

3. WWOOFing

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It pairs travelers with hosts and allows them to work on a farm, co-op, garden, or related space in exchange for food and accommodation.

WWOOF website for more information.

4. Odd jobs

These include working as a server/bartender, laborer, au pair, tour guide, and more. When you arrive in a location, look for “hiring” signs. Hop into restaurants and offices, bring your resume and be prepared to spend a little time unemployed and searching. Business cards help, too, but be sure they’re simple and universally useable. Additionally, highlight language and professional skills, and ensure you’re easily reachable within your host country (local phone number, provide email, etc.). This option requires more spontaneity, but it’s very doable and will offer some pay to live off of and travel with.

5. Working Holiday Scheme

Several countries offer working holiday visas and the opportunity to take on low-wage, seasonal jobs. The visas are available for people under 35 and typically last up to a year.

6. Skill-based jobs

You can do more than wait tables or answer phones if you want. It may take more digging, but will pay better and utilize your skills and any education you’ve received.

Alliance Abroad offers work placements before departure and provides accommodations. I’ve never used it but have heard it recommended before. They provide placements for business, event planning, food preparation and other skilled positions, as well as internships and general service positions.

7. Couch Surf

Couchsurfing allows you to link up with hosts in any country in the world and stay with them for free. Be sure to check up on the local culture’s etiquette so you know whether to bring a gift, buy meals, etc. Couchsurfers and hosts are generally open-minded travel-lovers who enjoy making new friends and helping others enjoy their cities. The database offers extensive reviews on hosts and ways to connect with other surfers.

8. Home Exchange

Swap apartments or houses for a trip. This allows you to stay, rent-free, in someone else’s home in your travel destination. HomeExchange is a good option for this.

9. Yacht or Cruise Ship Jobs

These are paid positions that include free room and board, meals and other expenses. These opportunities often go overlooked. While not a piece of cake, it is easier than one would think to find a safe, reputable job on a yacht or cruise ship.

Some good sites for finding service jobs on yachts or cruise ships include Crew 4 Crew, Jobs on Yachts and Cruise Ship Jobs.

Traveling with little money requires the traveler to let go of hard plans and remain open to sudden changes. It means time spent. It also often means no frills: hostels, street food, homestays, and sometimes a lack of western amenities. Challenges are part of it, though, and the memories and growth that travel create are incredible!

Plus, who knows? You may find your passion is teaching, farming, boating, or something you never dreamed of!

(Aside from friends and personal experience, Nomadic Matt had some great tips that helped with this article. He’s a fantastic budget travel blogger.)

What are your tips and resources for traveling paid or without significant expenses?

Image: Garry Knight, Flickr

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Growing up on Long Island, Tina Marie Realmuto’s love for acting was recognized in middle school, and she has pursued acting ever since. All throughout high school (hello, Class Valedictorian) and college (where she graduated a year early!), Tina got involved with all things acting-related. By studying amazing actors, stepping on-stage night after night, and living and breathing theater, Tina demonstrated her commitment to her craft.

Tina is not only talented and passionate about her work, but she is humble and motivated. With a great deal of experience in theater, Tina is also involved with films. She most recently finished shooting the short film, Whispers Of Guitar Strings, where she played one of the film’s lead roles. By working hard, feeding her passion, and constantly learning and improving, Tina is on the fast-track to stardom.

In-between classes at the Actors Studio Drama School in New York City, Tina sat down with Carpe Juvenis to share how she deals with stage fright, how she prepares for roles, and what her experience at graduate school has been like. Attention aspiring actors and actresses, take notes! Tina is seizing her youth and taking every opportunity possible to learn and hone her skills, and we can’t wait to see her on the big screen and Broadway!

Name: Tina Marie Realmuto
Age: 23
Education: Currently working towards Masters of Fine Arts in Acting at the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in NYC; Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Connecticut College
Follow: Website

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

Seizing your youth means to take advantage of opportunities that you are given at a young age and to really try to find out what you want to do with your life and go full throttle and go with it. Life is short. Follow your passion. Realize your dreams and try to pursue them.

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

I majored in theater at Connecticut College and got my Bachelor of Arts, and I was determined to study theater before I even applied to Connecticut College. In high school I took theater classes and just loved them. After that I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life and realized that acting was my passion. I applied to some conservatories – not many because I wanted to do a liberal arts program to get a more well-rounded education – and decided to continue with acting.

Did you study abroad?

Unfortunately I did not because I graduated a year early so I wasn’t able to study abroad with my schedule. I would have loved to. I probably would have gone to Italy or England because they have great theater. I definitely want to travel. Once I’m done with my Masters [at the Actors Studio Drama School], I would love to travel and see the sights and absorb the world.

What was your experience like graduating early?

Graduating early was tough to leave my friends and leave that part behind me, but once I got into the Actors Studio Drama School, it allowed me to see the next step and goal, which relieved a lot of uncertainty. It was very helpful.

What or who inspired you to become an actress?

Meryl Streep is my all-time favorite actress. I saw a couple of movies of hers when I was younger, but there were a lot of serious roles that I wasn’t allowed to see until I was a teenager. It was Mamma Mia that I fell in love with Meryl. I love the music of ABBA and the role she played, you saw a different side of her. Her versatility shined, and it helped me realize that this is what I want to do.

How do you mentally and physically prepare for a role?

This answer has changed since coming into my Masters program. Before, I really just read the script and tried to identify with the character, see similarities in her that I possess.  However, now at the Actors Studio Drama School, my process is incorporating the Method. It’s a technique to acting that is grounded in the work of Stanislavski and it basically explains that inspiration can only bring you so far. Sometimes you are automatically inspired with the role, but sometimes you can’t get that inspiration.

We do a technique where you do different sensory work. First you do relaxation so you can relieve your body of external tensions and stresses. Then you do sensory work, which helps me connect more with my emotional memory, which brings forth an organic and truthful emotion. It’s very difficult and emotionally and physically draining at times, but it’s so rewarding when you are able to access that part of yourself that I was never able to access before the program.

In terms of mentally preparing, it’s the sensory work and relaxation. I do different vocal warm-ups and learned how to do a series of steps that trains your voice to be more resonant – this way you won’t lose your voice onstage.

How do you stay motivated through each performance?

It all comes back to that inspiration. What inspires you? What drives you forward? Also for the character, what are her motivations? Since I haven’t been in a very long run before – such as months and years – but only for 10-12 performances, I really try to stay in the moment and remember that it’s a new audience every time. You owe that to the audience since they are coming to see the show for the first time. It’s also important to stay true to the character. I try to be motivated and try to do each part justice and do my part to tell the story.

What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned from being a working actress?

I have been very fortunate in that getting into grad school was an experience in itself. The audition process was grueling, but it prepared me for the real world as a working actress. It’s important to know that you’re not going to get every role that you try out for, and that you need to have confidence in yourself. I’ve learned in this program that you have to believe in yourself and your abilities.  Appreciate the opportunities you’re given; be grateful for them, and give 100% of yourself and in the end you’ll be rewarded for that. Also, just be nice to people and be polite, courteous, and never think of yourself superior in any way. This program has helped me as an actress and a person. I view the world differently.

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What was the audition process like?

Most of the schools I applied for I had to do classic and contemporary monologues. For Pace, which I love, I had to do a scene with a partner. My mom offered to do the scene with me, and I was like, “why not?!” We did a scene from Steel Magnolias. It was only five minutes long, and it was a beautiful, surreal experience. I auditioned for Elizabeth Kemp, and we performed the scene, and then she came out and spoke to us individually. She told us both that we had to think of someone that we lost and would do anything to bring back. We both picked the same person unknowingly. We did the scene again and genuine emotion was coming out, and I was bawling my eyes out. Just from those two minutes of guidance from Elizabeth, it helped me perform the best acting of my life.

Do you have a pre-show ritual?

I am a spiritual person and have faith. I also try to incorporate preparatory work and try to get to an authentic emotional place for the character.

How do you overcome self-doubt or stage fright?

Self-doubt is hard because in this profession, we shouldn’t center ourselves on accolades from people, but we do need that feedback. However, you can’t let negative comments or feedback make you think less of yourself and your abilities. Self-doubt is hard, and I went through a lot of debate about whether I should go into this industry. At the end of the day, you have to realize how much this enriches your life and as a human being. It’s a constant battle throughout my life, but I keep pushing forward.

Sometimes I get nervous right before I go onstage, but once I’m onstage I’m usually okay. Thankfully, my stage fright hasn’t affected my performance. What helps me is realizing that it is my physicality up onstage, but I’m really being someone else. This way, it makes me feel less judged because it’s not me as Tina, but me as my character. I’m telling the story of someone else, which helps me feel less self-conscious. I focus on doing the best I can as my character.

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

Everyone’s journey is different. For me, it was great to go to a liberal arts school and study theater, as well as other subjects, and then go to an acting graduate school for training and to get more experience. Other people might want to go straight into theater after high school.

Be true to yourself and really hone in on what you want to do. I know it’s hard to figure that out when you’re 17-years-old, and I’m fortunate that I knew what I wanted to do. Start now when you have the time and energy to accomplish things. When I’m in my 30’s, I’d like to have a family and kids, but now is my time to do what I want to do.

What does a day in your life look like?

My days are a little crazy. Right now my days are filled up with classes for the program. I’m taking a theater history class, acting, voice & speech and a movement class where we learn how to use our physical bodies with acting. I spend time studying and rehearsing, but just trying to enjoy it all at the same time.

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

In high school I was involved in theater and dance classes, which propelled my love for theater. I didn’t audition for major productions because I was an AP student so I had a lot of homework. Academics were the most important thing to me in high school even though I knew I loved theater. It ended up being great that I did that because I had enough AP credits to graduate early. I focused on theater classes in college. I was in an Italian Foreign Language Honor Society Club and I was involved with Best Buddies, which is a program that worked with special needs students.

In college I participated in Gospel Choir. I also did a lot of behind-the-scenes work such as sound design and set construction. I tried to do different elements of theater, but I realized acting was my true passion.

You attend the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University. What has your experience been like going to graduate school in New York City?

I grew up on Long Island, but I was thrown by living in New York City. I love the Broadway strip and it’s great to absorb so much culture. It’s also great to observe people, especially as an actor, just walking down the street. I’ve been more observant of people and their habits and behaviors. I love New York City and lower Manhattan. I haven’t been able to see too many shows because of my grueling schedule, but I love that I have the city at my fingertips.

How has the Actors Studio Drama School changed the way you act or view acting?

It has changed me in every way. I came here with a notion of what to do, but this program went on a deeper level. The amount of authenticity in emotion that comes through the work and preparation is mind-blowing. It transcends you in a way, and it borderlines a surreal experience. It taught me a different view on life. I realized that our creativity is inside of us and we just have to tap into it. A lot of people have it, but they don’t have the means or inclination to do it. I really recommend this program, I love my professors, and I’m so grateful to be here.

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What has your favorite role been?

In Elizabeth’s class, I played Corie in Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon. It was so freeing. My partner and I had great chemistry and I learned so much from the scene.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be playing Catherine in A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. It’s great because it’s an Italian-American family in Brooklyn in the 1950’s. I can’t wait to do that. It’s part of a festival where we perform scenes.

What motivates you in your everyday life?

I would say my family. I’m very family-oriented. I have a great mother and father, best friends, and wonderful grandparents. The love is there. I try to do that in all my work; I try to find the love. Even when people are screaming at each other, the love is beneath everything.

Also, I try to be a good human being. I try to be positive, even when I’m tired. To bring joy to people, that’s a huge motivation. I think about acting and theater all the time, but I’m also a normal person who enjoys reading, seeing friends, and watching TV and movies. My art really drives me though.

Who is your role model?

Meryl Streep, of course. I also love Ellen Burstyn, who I met during orientation last year. My mom is a wonderful role model for me just as a woman and a mother. I hope to be as great of a mother as she is one day. She’s been a great support system and role model for me.

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

Have faith in yourself. Have confidence. You can do it.

What’s next for you?

I want more film experience. I’ve been so involved with theater, which is my passion, but I’d love to try different mediums of acting. Watching film actors as a child really propelled me into acting. Once I graduate, I hope to become a lifetime member of the Actors Studio and I hope to come back here to teach and continue the legacy that they have established.

Education

You’re in! After months and months of studying for the SATs or ACTs, maintaining your grades, filling out applications, writing essays, asking for recommendations, and impatiently waiting, you have finally earned a spot in one (or a few!) of the schools from your college list. Even after all that work, the hard part still may not be over. Unless you already know exactly where you want to attend school and have no doubts whatsoever, picking which college to attend can be a very stressful decision. When I was picking between a couple of schools, I visited them both again so I had a fresh perspective. Of course, I ended up transferring colleges, but I learned a lot from that experience and have a better idea of what to think about when deciding on a college.

These are the critical factors to consider once you have been accepted to college…

What Do You Want to Study?

This can be a tough question. You don’t have to declare your major until the end of sophomore year, and unless you have a direct path you want to follow, you should spend your initial semester exploring new topics and being open to a major you might never have thought of before. However, it is important that you take a look at all of the classes and majors offered at each school to be sure that there are at least three topics of interest to you. Think about which professors you would want to learn from, the types of classes offered, and the major requirements. These classes will be a major time commitment when you are at college, so choose a school that has departments that best correlate with your interests.

Visit the School Again

You might change a lot in the time between when you first visit a school and just before you graduate high school.

Talk to Current Students

If you visit the school again, be sure to talk to as many students as you can. Most students are willing to offer their opinions and advice. Ask lots of questions about their experience at that college to get a feel for if it will be the right fit for you. If you don’t have the opportunity to visit the school’s campus, read up on college blogs to get a sense of what the students are like. You may even be able to reach out to the school to see if they have the phone numbers or email addresses of students who would be willing to share their experiences at that college. It will be helpful to hear real life situations to see if you relate or not.

Talk to Alumni

Speaking with people who have graduated from a school you are looking at can be very helpful to see what their experiences were like, as well as what they are currently up to. Maybe one alum has a job somewhere you would love to work, or in an industry that fascinates you. You’ll get a very honest opinion from alumni because they have completed their schooling and have had a couple of years to reflect on their experiences.

Small versus Large

You probably thought about this when you were first creating your list of schools to apply to. I encourage you to think about this again. If you applied to both small colleges and large universities, take a moment to think about the environment that you learn best in. Do you prefer a smaller class size where you can get more attention from the professor, or do you enjoy being surrounded by hundreds of interesting classmates with a variety of opinions and experiences? The size of school really does have an impact on both your educational and personal experiences.

Financials

College is expensive. Period. If you received Financial Aid or Scholarships, congratulations! That’s amazing. However, if you did not, thinking about the cost of college is very important. Not only is the tuition an important aspect of this budget analysis, but also think about travel costs to and from college to home, food costs, and living expenses when you are living on your own. These vary for everyone, but the little things do add up and can play a crucial role in your decision making process.

Career Services

Let’s face it, you probably want a job when you graduate. Or an internship for the summers while you are still in college. Or maybe even a part-time job while you are attending school. Do some research and figure out which schools in your ‘Accepted List’ have strong and well-connected career service centers. These college career service departments usually have their own websites. Take a look and find out whether the school will help you with interviewing, job placement, and resume writing.

Extracurriculars

What kinds of clubs and organizations are available on campus? Do some research to find a couple of clubs that you might want to join on your first day. Are you playing sports or want to play a club sport? You should make sure your school of choice offers that. Have you always wanted to be a part of student government? A language club? Volunteer services? Browse through all of the offerings and think about what you might want to be a part of.

Study Abroad

Most schools offer study abroad, and many have incredible programs. Instead of asking generic questions such as, “Do you have programs in France or Spain?,” ask specific questions that will actually affect you. “Which study abroad programs are best for the topic/major that I am interested in?” Certain study abroad programs are stronger than others in certain departments, and you want to make sure your school can provide those options and assistance when the time comes to apply. Some schools have reputations built around their study abroad programs. If traveling and studying outside of the U.S. is important to you, then you should pick the school with the strongest study abroad program.

Personal Preferences

There is no question that you have personal preferences when it comes to which school you want to attend. Maybe you applied to a wide variety of schools so that you would have many options to choose from. If so, then this is very critical. Think about the things that really matter to you, besides the educational aspect. Do you want a campus or a more urban campus? Do you want to be in the suburbs or the city? How far do you actually want to travel to get home for the holidays? Does the school attract a certain type of person? Are there exclusive groups? Do you want to be at a school with or without a Greek system? To be taught by T.A.s or not to be taught by T.A.s? There are many small decisions that go into making the overall decision, so do not overlook your personal preferences.

Act Now

Don’t wait until the day before you have to commit to a school to think about these decisions. If you do, you will feel rushed and may make a decision you will come to regret. While you can always transfer, do you really want to do the entire application process all over again? Take it from me, it’s not fun.

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Rachel Geisler is awesome. It’s as simple as that. We first met Rachel during an internship in New York City, and since that summer, she has been doing incredible things. For instance, she played Anna in the Spring Awakening National Tour. Pretty cool, right? She also spent a semester in London traveling and studying. When Rachel isn’t auditioning, she is honing her acting and singing skills and working part-time. We are beyond inspired by Rachel’s self-motivation and determination, and we can’t wait to see her again on-stage and on-screen! Read on for insight into her pre-show rituals, what she does when she forgets a line during a live performance, and a sneak peek into what life was like on the Spring Awakening National Tour.

Name: Rachel Geisler
Age: 22
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts at New York University
Follow: Twitter

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

Seizing your youth means taking every opportunity that you might have in your youth that you won’t have when you’re older. Things like taking a job or an internship that doesn’t necessarily meet your desired trajectory just take that experience and to enjoy it. A lot of my friends still get a lot of financial help from their parents, so that frees you up to take a restaurant job and to audition, which is super helpful and something pretty specific to being at this age.

What did you major in at New York University and how did you determine what to study?

I majored in Musical Theater. I grew up in New York City so I was always exposed to theater. My parents took me to shows and to the ballet when I was younger, and that definitely had a huge impact on me. I always loved the arts. I didn’t know that I wanted to perform for a long time. I wasn’t that person. Some of my friends had that moment or the show that they saw that made them want to perform forever, but I think it was a gradual appreciation for me and once I started taking voice lessons, it became more serious for me.

I found a summer camp, Stagedoor Manor, that I went to from when I was 12 to when I was 18. It was a performing arts theater camp and I was inspired by the teachers and performers to pursue theater. When I started at NYU, Musical Theater seemed like the obvious choice for me.

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

I spent a semester in London. I think that everybody should study abroad at some point. It was an unbelievable experience, not just for theater but for the academics. I decided not to take any theater classes when I was there, but I saw a lot of shows. It gave me a great perspective and refreshed my appreciation for theater, which I needed at the time. Just being able to travel and being in Europe and having access to cheaper flights was great and I got to see a lot of new countries.

What or who inspired you to become a professional actress?

I started at NYU, which can be a very overwhelming place. It’s a big school and there are a lot of things to study. After my freshman year I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to stick with theater. And then I got the Spring Awakening National Tour and when I ended up doing that, there was no going back. That experience solidified theater for me.

I interned at Seventeen Magazine the summer before thinking that I was really interested in publishing and the fashion world. I had never really made up my mind as to which direction I wanted to go in, and then after the National Tour, I knew that theater was what I wanted to do.

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You played Anna in the Spring Awakening National Tour. Tell us about that experience.

It was the best year of my life thus far. It was so much fun. I was a huge, huge fan of Spring Awakening when it was on Broadway. I saw it about eight or nine times. I was that theater geek who saw it every weekend I could.

I loved being on the Spring Awakening National Tour, I got to see the rest of the country. My family had traveled but we never really traveled within the United States. My mom is from Japan so we were always in Asia or elsewhere, but seeing the United States was a really fun experience. Especially getting to do that with 20 other people around your age and who also love the same thing that you love, it was a really wonderful experience and I grew up a lot on that Tour.

How do you prepare for a National Tour?

You have to be in the best shape you can possibly be in, vocally and making sure you’re taking care of yourself. You’re going from bus to plane to theater, and all of the traveling does take a huge toll on your body. Just going in with an open mind and being open to the new experiences. Take care of yourself but also remember to have fun and take advantage of what I was doing.

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

That’s a tough one. We did 137 performances of Spring Awakening. A lot of tours do upwards of about 600 shows. For Spring Awakening, the whole cast is pretty much on-stage for the entire show. We’re sitting on the side and watching the action happening. It’s easier to stay engaged when you’re on-stage and supporting your fellow actors. You don’t ever want to be that person who is zoning out.

Getting tired does happen and you can get jet-lagged. We were in Colorado and got altitude sickness. There were points in the show where I would make sure to embrace what was happening. Even if I was exhausted and wanted to be done with the performance and go to bed, I would remember that I was on the National Tour of Spring Awakening. I would remind myself that I wanted this for so long and that I needed to enjoy it. That would always bring me back when I got tired.

What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned from being a working actress?

One of the best things that I’ve learned is to be a good person. There are a lot of talented people. You think sometimes that there are some roles that only one person could play. But there were so many girls that could have played Anna in Spring Awakening, so I think the thing that sets you apart is to be a good person.

You have to be the kind of person that the director or casting director would want to spend 12 hours a day in rehearsal with. If you set yourself up with success by being nice and professional and being open and kind, that will set you apart from the millions of other people trying to act and land roles. Some of them might have an attitude problem or take the opportunities for granted and be a diva about it. I got really lucky with Spring Awakening because everybody was young and didn’t have much of an ego, but that’s not necessarily the case with other circumstances. Keep reminding yourself that you want to be the person that other people want to work with.

How do you overcome self-doubt or stage fright?

If you’re not scared there’s something wrong. It’s just a matter of learning how to channel the self-doubt and stage fright. I always get nervous. I’m always scared. I love performing but I’m not the best with public speaking. It’s just different ways of approaching different performances or exhibition.

With theater, it’s just doing the most work you could possibly do so you can do the best show no matter what. If something goes wrong, you should know the character and the story. If someone drops a line, you’ll know how to pick it up and keep the story moving. That is completely necessary in theater. People forget lines all the time. We did 137 shows and if you lose focus for one second, a line can leave you so you have to trust that the rest of the people you’re working with can handle the situation.

Have you ever forgotten a line and what are you thinking in that moment?

All the time! I didn’t have that many lines in Spring Awakening. There was one show where there was a horrible smell on-stage and I kind of choked a little bit, so everyone on stage with me thought I forgot my line because I couldn’t get my words out. It was horrible. But then someone was on it with the next line and you bring yourself back to it. If you’re in character and you know what your character wants to say, it might not be the exact line but something along those lines. Then you’ll get a note from your Stage Manager telling you that what you said wasn’t the actual line, and you’re like, yes, I know. I forgot. The next time you’ll get it right.

Do you have any pre-show rituals to get into character?

Some people go crazy with their pre-show rituals. I am really into music so if it’s a first night of a show, I try to figure out the right playlist that gets me in the state-of-mind. For Spring Awakening, that was more pump-up music because that show was a lot of energy. For other things it could be mellower. I love to listen to music.

I also try to go around to everyone who I’m in the show with and just say “hey.” When you’re on tour, you get to the theater and everyone goes to their dressing rooms and you don’t see each other until you’re on-stage. I just love to touch base and catch up really quickly and say “hi.”

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

Do it. There are so many people who will tell you so many different things about how hard it is, and it’s true, it’s not easy. There are definitely waves of success and sometimes you think you’re perfect for something and it doesn’t work out – maybe you’re too tall or you don’t fit into the costume of the previous person who played the role.

I’m a huge believer that you have to be a smart person to be a smart actor. I think education is insanely important and not just training. Training in the craft of acting is hugely important, but I think that learning the history of what you’re doing and keeping yourself informed on current events and being well-read just makes you a better actor. If you have things that are not related to theater or drama, that’s great because most of the time you’re playing real people and it helps to have those experiences.

That’s one of the reasons why I chose NYU – they have a huge emphasis on the academic side of theater and making sure you’re a well-rounded person as well as a well-rounded actor.

What does a day in your life look like?

It’s so different. I live with two people who have pretty standard schedules and mine is all over the place. If I have an audition, which hopefully I do, I like to go to the gym to wake my body up and do yoga. Sit in the steam room for a little bit. After an audition, I call my mom and talk to her for a little bit. I work at a restaurant so I’m there three or four times a week. That’s part of my day. Because I went to school in New York, I still have use of the facilities so if I have time, I’ll practice monologues and sing to help me feel connected with my craft. When you’re waitressing and auditioning constantly, you start to feel like you’re this product and you have to reconnect with your craft and what you worked really hard to do. I try to do that as often as possible.

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

I loved high school. I did a little bit of everything in high school. I played basketball, did yearbook, and student government. I went to a really small private school in New York so everybody was involved in everything, which was great. I went to a school with somewhat of an art scene and they definitely appreciated the arts a lot.

One of my teachers, Margie Duffield, was a huge influence on me. I always loved singing and dancing and she was the one who pushed me to do more acting, and she introduced me to a lot of the techniques that I use now and when I was in school. That was a really big thing for me and having that influence who made me realize that I was enough and I could do more than musical theater.

What has your experience been like going to college in New York City?

I loved it. Clearly, I never left! It can be hard because sometimes the city is very overwhelming. My brother is now at the University of Maryland and I hear all these fun stories about what they do on-campus and all these things that are so foreign to me. One of the things about being in New York is that I was very involved with the theater community. After I came back from Spring Awakening, I was able to continue auditioning and working and do readings and workshops. Things that people not in the city don’t necessarily get to do.

I’m also a huge family person and my family lives here and at the time my younger brother was here, so it was important for me to be in New York. I thought NYU was the best fit for me so it all worked out. If I hadn’t been in New York, I wouldn’t have been able to audition for Spring Awakening, and I wouldn’t have had that experience. Everything happens for a reason.

What motivates you in your everyday life?

If you want to pursue theater, you have to keep yourself motivated. You won’t have someone everyday telling you “Great job!” Unless you’re doing a show you don’t really get that reinforcement. You have to take every little victory that you can get. If you’re standing in a studio and you hit a note better than you felt like you have a week ago, take that victory. That’s a step towards what you want to be doing.

I’ll go take a dance class and motivate myself to do what I want to be doing. When you’re not in school, there’s no one telling you that you have to go to this dance class or read this play. I try to read as many plays as I can. One of my friends is actually doing something that I admire – she’s reading a new play every day. Before she goes to bed, she reads a new play.

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Who is your role model?

My mom. It’s so cliché it almost pains me to say it. She studied art in college and didn’t necessarily end up pursuing it for the rest of her life, but she has such an appreciation for it and is so supportive of me. She’s one of those people whose words just make sense to me. She’ll just tell me what I was thinking – who knows you better than your mom?

There are definitely people whose careers I admire, but I don’t know them on a personal level so I can’t really call them a role model.

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

Calm down. Being in high school in general, especially with theater, it seems like so much focus on doing an exact thing a certain way to get into college. It just seems like that is your goal – to get into college. I don’t know anybody who didn’t figure it out for themselves. They might not have gone to the college they wanted to go to, or maybe they spent a semester somewhere and worked really hard and transferred, but it’s not the end all be all. People change their majors and idea of what they want to do all the time.

In high school, you’re thinking you have to get into a specific school for a certain program. I would tell myself to calm down and that everything will work itself out. Enjoy high school because it’s such a weird time where you’re old enough to start having fun but you’re still living with your parents and getting all the benefits of that. Enjoy it and don’t think too far ahead of yourself.

What’s next for you?

Hopefully a show! I went back to school after Spring Awakening and I put all of my focus on that because graduating was really important to me. I graduated this past May and worked a little bit this summer on a few projects. My friends have started writing plays and directing and choreographing, so I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of their work. You don’t get paid or anything, but collaborating is so fun.

CultureEducationSkillsTravel

Welcome to week two of Carpe’s “Travel Series.” This week, I share my best tips on how to travel on a budget. Having just returned from a semester in Denmark, I had the opportunity to take several trips and learn some important lessons on how to cut down costs while on the road.

TRAVELING ON A BUDGET

1. Create a budget. Before you buy tickets, book accommodations, or reserve tickets, consider how much money you will also need for food, transportation, and purchasing appropriate clothing if you do not already own it. Take in all of these factors and shape your budget around what matters most to you. If you care about staying in a hotel that is centrally located, you might need to spend less on dining out or on event or sightseeing tickets. If you care more about excursions, plan your budget around those activities. Create a simple budget spreadsheet and email it to yourself or print out a small version for easy travel access!

2. Stick to your budget! It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of being somewhere new, but if you are careless about your spending then the end of the trip will feel more like a headache than a vacation. Keep a small notepad or note in your phone documenting how much money you spend each day so you can calculate how much you have per day going forward.

3. Consider a hostel. Hostels can be a great option for cutting costs, especially if you are traveling in a group. The key element to traveling safely while staying in hostels is to check the ratings from previous guests, and to make sure that there are lockers with locks that you can rent to store your valuables. This option also works well if you are traveling with a group of 5-10 people, as most hostels have community rooms that are filled on a guest-to-guest basis. And remember to bring shower shoes, as bathrooms are often co-ed and shared by an entire floor.

4. Split with a friend. You learned it when you were young, and you’re about to hear it again: sharing is caring! Splitting meals and accommodations is great way to cut down on cost. Also consider coordinating outfits so that you can both bring half the amount of clothes and share along the way. Agree specifically on what you are willing to share before you leave for the trip or you might find yourself in an awkward position, whether it be not wanting to lend a favorite sweater or not being able to wear a pair of shoes you were counting on wearing. Talking beforehand clears up most of these problems and helps you pack more appropriately.

5. Bring a water bottle. Rather than continually buying bottles of water, bring along your own durable water bottle that you can fill with safe/clean tap water. This trick not only saves you money but helps you help the environment! Remember: you are not allowed to have any liquid in the container while going through security at the airport.

6. Use Space Saver Bags for clothing. Tip: Avoid “vacuum-seal” brands. Using space saver bags allows you to bring more variety of clothing, meaning you are less likely to splurge on an essential item you forgot to pack because you didn’t have space. I love these bags because I can fit more into a smaller space, bring a smaller bag, and travel more simply and conveniently. I’m not as worried about whether or not I will be able to fit my bags into the overhead if I’m taking a train, and having less stuff to keep an eye on means that there there’s more time for fun and less time for stress!

 How do you travel on a budget? We’d love to hear your tips!

P.S. How to stay safe when traveling.