CultureHealthTravel

With its long days, relaxing energy, and laid-back natives, I can only describe the small island nation of Fiji as slow. When I traveled to this beautiful country a few years ago, the friendly Fijian workers at the resort I stayed at taught me so much. Not only did they teach me about some of the local flora & fauna of the ocean and how to properly drink kava (more on this later!), but they also taught me about a concept they call “Fjii time.” According to the natives, Fiji time is a sensation felt by everyone who visits and lives on the island – Fiji time makes minutes feel like hours and hours feel like days. It forces people to stop rushing and enjoy where they are at the moment.

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Coming from a fast-paced lifestyle, getting used to Fiji time was an adjustment. If I am being honest, I found it a bit annoying at first. The same way some American east-coasters say that the west coast is too “laid back” for them, I thought Fiji was just a sleepy island that essentially was a giant resort for retirees and ex-pats. Soon enough, I was proven wrong.

One spontaneous night, the resort staff invited me and few friends to join them up at the main building. We joined them and saw about 6 or 7 Fijians sitting Indian-style on the floor and laying shamelessly across the cold tile floor (maybe in attempt to cool off from the heavy Fijian heat). We spent what seemed like hours chatting about Fijian culture and talking about the adventures many tourists – including myself – had been on so far. From values to fears to funny stories, we talked about it all. At some point in this conversation, I remember thinking, “so this is what they mean by Fiji time.” No one was worried about going to bed at a certain time or counting the hours until we had to wake up the next morning. We were all simply enjoying each passing second in the present moment.

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Quick side note: throughout the conversation, the staff was sipping on a drink called kava, a traditional beverage with some serious sedative properties. Naïve to what exactly kava was, I tried some and quickly noticed my tongue was tingling and I felt very calm. I briefly wondered if “Fiji time” was a result of drinking kava, as it is a popular pastime for Fijians, but then dismissed it because I surely experienced Fiji time beforehand… we will never know for sure.

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At this point we have probably all read enough self-help articles helpfully urging us to slow down our hectic lives, but I want to add to this. So much can be learned when you spend time with those of another culture, background, or ideology. While the idea of Fiji time originated in that island country, it is a mindset that can be taken with you anywhere across the globe you might find yourself.

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Fijians value spending their time together laughing, storytelling, and giving advice – something that does not seem to happen as often in person as it should. What I took away from Fiji was more than lovely photos and a few souvenirs, but a reminder of how important it is to pass time – in the moment – with the people around you.

Image: Aysia Woods

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Saying that we are fans of Darling Magazine would be a major understatement. We are huge fans – we love how real it is, the topics covered, and the positivity expressed on each and every page. Did you know that Darling Magazine never uses Photoshop to alter women’s faces or bodies. Pretty cool. Not only is the magazine a joy to read, but the Darling website provides a dose of daily happiness and articles that are deeply relatable.

When you’re on the Darling website, Nicole Ziza Bauer is the one curating everything you see, such as writers, articles, ads, and collaborations. So you can thank her when you read an article that makes you reflect on what’s important in everyday life. Though Nicole now spends her time storytelling, her time used to be spent in labs and conducting medical research. Nicole originally pursued a career in the medical field, she stepped back and thought hard about what she wanted to do, not what she should do. This reflection brought her to a new, more creative path.

Nicole is a world traveler, an avid list-maker, and someone who is true to herself, and her journey will inspire you to follow your heart and to not worry if you don’t have everything already figured out (who really does anyway?).

Name: Nicole Ziza Bauer
Education: B.A. in Zoology and Molecular Biology from Miami University
Follow: NicoleZizaBauer.com / Darling Magazine

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

Nicole Ziza Bauer: Enjoying it, savoring it, not being in a rush to grow out of it.

CJ: You majored in Zoology and Molecular Biology at Miami University. How did you decide what to study?

NZB: I planned on going to medical school after graduation, so I wanted to major in something that would best prepare me for what lay ahead.

CJ: After college you were a Staff Research Associate at UCLA Medical Center researching how the heart works. What was this experience like working in a lab and conducting research?

NZB: Working in the lab was a great transition from college life to the “real” world, since I was still in an academic environment very similar to where I had spent the last four years. It was challenging but also inspiring; I got to be on the very edge of research that could potentially save lives. Though there was a lot of monotony and repetition in the lab, each day also held the potential of unlocking something that nobody had ever seen or understood before. That was really motivating.

CJ: After preparing for medical school and doing post-grad research, you switched career paths and went into a career of storytelling, writing, and creating. Before Darling Magazine, you were a Purchasing Agent and Event Coordinator. What inspired this change of heart and how did you deal with the stress of making this transition?

NZB: I wish I could say it was one simple thing that sparked the change, but nothing in life is ever that black or white. While I was excited about medical school and worked really hard to get accepted into one, I also kept a strong inner dialogue after college and that prompted me to truly evaluate where I saw my life headed and if there were other things I might want to do instead of becoming a physician.

I had always been a creative child and writing and art brought me a lot of joy. When I stepped back from what I thought I “should” do in order to appear successful in the eyes of others and slowly started asking myself what I wanted to do, the answer came into focus. From there I started looking for opportunities that would better enable me to learn and grow creatively.

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CJ: How were you able to block out the external voices and follow your internal compass?

NZB: Trusting that I didn’t have to have it all figured out, or have a clear idea of my career path once I graduated helped to free me from the stress surrounding the decision. I had to (and still do) remind myself that taking things one step at a time is OK. Our character and appreciation of life is built in those tiny steps. Thankfully, I had a few close friends that I could lean on when I was deciding whether or not to go medical school who guided me out of the fog a bit. Having those trusted sources to remind you of your worth, your convictions and your big dreams is so, so important.

CJ: What advice would you give a young adult who might be at a “passion crossroads” in his or her life? 

NZB: I would say: Hi, can I give you a hug? Because you are completely normal!

College is great for so many things, but a lot of times it can also lead us into a false belief that it’s the only time in life to figure things out or decide our future. That’s simply not true. If you are conflicted over what you’re pursuing right now, ask yourself some tough questions: Why did you choose the road you’re on in the first place? Whose applause are you seeking? Do you want out because you’re afraid of hard (sometimes tedious) work? Or are you simply realizing that there might be other avenues out there that you’d enjoy and want to explore?

Our early to mid-20s grant us many opportunities for making decisions and learning how to make independent choices. It’s really important that we look at crossroads or changes of heart not as failures, but as chances to better understand how we’ve been made, who we are, and what our unique role in the world should be.

CJ: You are now the Online Managing Editor at Darling Magazine, a guide to “the art of being a woman.” What does your role as Online Managing Editor entail? What do your daily tasks look like?

NZB: As online editor I’m responsible for all the website, blog, and advertising content that Darling develops. This involves creating and maintaining an editorial calendar (so that our site always has new material), finding and communicating with writers, and generating article ideas, and sometimes even writing myself. My daily tasks include lots of emails, reading and editing articles, chatting with different Darling staffers, and maybe a meeting or a phone call with a brand about potential collaborations.

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CJ: You curate content, writers, ads, and collaborations on the Darling website. How do you go about narrowing down content so it fits the Darling mission, and how do you establish collaborations?

NZB: Great question! Knowing what you stand for is key to developing a powerful brand. Therefore, with Darling I’m constantly evaluating if something will serve to reinforce our mission statement or if it’ll conflict with it. I try to put myself in the position of a reader and ask: What would they take away from this article? Would they be more inspired to own the things our mission statement says about them, or less? The same goes for working with other writers and brands. We have to be on the same page, working together for that same common goal, rather than just using one another for increased status or popularity.

CJ: We loved your inspiring article ‘The Myths of Wanderlust’ – how has traveling influenced you, and is there a particular trip you have taken that stands out in your mind?

NZB: Thank you! Traveling is definitely something that I choose to prioritize, as it helps to keep my problems small and sense of wonder and world awareness large.

Probably my favorite adventure to date was the month I spent backpacking around Italy with my husband. My grandmother was Sicilian, so I’ve loved everything Italy since childhood. I studied the language a bit in college and then spent a few weeks in Rome after graduating, but getting to go off the grid around the entire country (for a whole month) felt like a dream. It was like coming home.

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

NZB: I am an avid list-maker. Every thought, idea, or task that I need to accomplish gets written down, that way I immediately get it out of my head and onto a tangible piece of paper. From there, I look at my week’s agenda and decide when I can schedule time to complete the most pressing tasks. I never go anywhere without my giant, spiral-bound notebook calendar.

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

NZB: It depends. Sometimes I just need to say a quick prayer, vent to my husband or call my best friend. Other times getting outside and taking my dogs on a walk or going for a hike will help. And when all else fails … I’ll watch old Netflix episodes of Murder, She Wrote. JB Fletcher can solve anything.

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

NZB: I love animals, so I’m a huge advocate of pet adoption. Not only can we provide an animal with a safe and loving home, but we in turn learn compassion when we care for things smaller and less consequential than us. Darling also has a partnership with IJM, of which I am a huge fan. They have such a comprehensive model for bringing justice and eradicating sex trafficking across the globe. It’s very impressive and inspiring.

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

NZB: Lately I’ve been trying to get by with less, get rid of more, and curb the mindless spending that’s all too easy to fall into, especially after trolling blogs or social media. In the last few months I’ve donated about five bags of clothing, which has been really eye-opening to consider, especially when I find myself “needing” something new. Most likely, I don’t.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

NZB: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

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

NZB: Study abroad. Also, take a deep breath; this is just the beginning.

Nicole ZB Qs

 

Images by Emily Blake and Nicole Ziza Bauer

ExploreTravel

When most people think of the top “foodie cities,” New York, Nashville, or New Orleans likely come to mind. But I think there’s another city climbing its way up the culinary ladder – good old Washington, D.C.! That’s right, the city I call home has quite a few restaurants that my taste buds just can’t get enough of. Next time you’re ready for a mind-blowing meal, try one of my favorite D.C. spots.

Located in the charming, Eastern Market neighborhood, Sona Creamery & Wine Bar is the place to go for a satisfying meal or a quick gourmet snack. This restaurant is known for its wide variety of decadent cheeses (they even make their own in-house) and perfectly paired wines. I recently went here for brunch with a group of my closest friends for my 22nd birthday, and we each ordered an entrée and split the most delicious five cheese board imaginable. The cheese made me seriously consider signing up for Sona’s weeklong Cheese Tour in Ireland – yes you read that right, cheese tour in Ireland. If you find yourself here, I recommend the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes or Pork Gyro. You can’t go wrong with either.

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I just moved to D.C.’s Van Ness area, so I have been doing quite a bit of exploring. During my strolling, I came across Bread Furst Bakery. This quaint neighborhood bakery serves all kinds of pastries, breads, breakfast foods, pies, cakes, jams, preserves, and so much more. The relaxing patio out front is constantly full of families enjoying the weather, joggers taking a quick break, and dogs relaxing in the shade. Bread Furst is a must-do not only for the nice atmosphere, but also because of its Lavender Honey Tea Cakes and those perfectly soft chocolate cookies. Sometimes, you just have to thank serendipity for discovering gems like this.

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For the more adventurous eaters, here is the restaurant for you – Das Ethiopian Cuisine, nestled in the heart of Georgetown. First, a quick disclaimer: wearing stretchy pants here might be a good idea. This classy establishment serves all types of flavorful fish, meats, and vegetables customary of Ethiopian cooking. I usually go for the Das Chicken and Beef Combination Sampler because, like its name suggests, it has a little bit of everything. The staff is forever accommodating and it is obvious just how much pride they take in the restaurant, as all the white tablecloths are impeccably pressed and napkins expertly folded. Eating with your hands is expected here, which makes dining even more of an experience.

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Finally, located in the up and coming D.C. neighborhood of Bloomingdale is Old Engine 12 Restaurant, a new spot serving creative versions of traditional American dishes like Deviled Eggs with shrimp and squid ink or grits with heaps of extra sharp Cheddar. I first went here when my parents came to visit me and we were impressed with the neat architecture. The restaurant is actually a renovated firehouse and its integrity has been maintained with the industrial fireman poles and open garage doors. Not only was I fascinated by the unique dishware at Old Engine 12 (clear mugs make tea much cooler) but I was also happily satisfied with the homemade grilled meatballs and beet salad – it all felt like real comfort food.

Next time you want a food adventure, try one of these restaurants! I would love to know how you like it. Happy eating!

 

Travel

There are endless ways to explore the world: solo, with family, as a volunteer, or with a program. No doubt each method offers its own unique perks and setbacks. Having the opportunity to travel more independently with family and friends and with larger organizations like People to People Student Ambassadors and Global Visions International (GVI), I’ve experienced a bit of what these various types of travel have to offer. If you’re considering signing-up with a traveling program, hopefully this little list of pros and cons of traveling in large groups will help you make your decision!

Pros

  1. Meeting people from all over the world is ten times easier in an organized setting. When you think about it, everyone is likely there for the same purpose – to gain invaluable experience in a foreign location and build relationships – so you already have something in common! Many times programs have semi-organized free time or group activities that promote casual socializing. Afterwards you will hopefully have great friends to visit (and who will let you crash on their couches) in other countries!
  1. Access to special deals, promotions, and events are common perks as organizations usually have deals with popular tourist sites and great relationships with the local community. I’m talking private tours, discounted tickets, and behind-the-scenes information that you would never have known about had you traveled independently. When I went on a three week South Pacific tour with People to People the summer of 2011, all of us students had a chance to meet the mayor of Rotorua, New Zealand, and enjoyed a night dancing our hearts out on a boat overlooking the Sydney Opera House. Could we have done this on our own? Maybe, but definitely not for free like we did!
  1. You’re going to learn so much. Most large travel organizations have a platform, activity, or issue they are addressing through their program – it could be education, sports, poverty, hunger, health, politics, or cross-cultural understanding, just to name a few. The program I volunteered with through GVI was focused on education. Had I never participated, I would know nothing about injustices that exist in the South African primary school system. The entire experience opens eyes to issues you know little about or, like me, never knew existed.

Cons

  1. Early mornings are part of the packaged deal when traveling with a large group. Depending on the type of program you travel with, schedules vary slightly, but more than likely participants are required to follow a schedule that starts early in the morning. It’s not always terrible, but when jet lag combined with simple travel exhaustion are combined, waking up could be a struggle.
  1. Yes, there will be some people you don’t care for in your program. But the good news is, there are many other people to focus on and you will not be with them forever. You never know, after your travels you may even miss that one annoying personality.

There are so many positives than negatives that come from traveling with a larger group or organization. I dare you to give it a shot!

Image: Flickr

Travel

Whilst strolling along the warm streets of Philadelphia with a dear friend last summer, a curious conversation developed. He mentioned that in his opinion, cities are more alike than different because they each have downtowns, trendy neighborhoods, grocery stores, and so on. While certainly a valid point, I couldn’t help but to humbly disagree.

Cities, to me, are like people; organic and distinct. Each one has its own unique vibration that affects its dwellers and visitors differently. Perhaps I am a complete travel romantic, but every time I explore a new city I feel a different vibe and perspective.

For example, the powerful city I currently call “home” – Washington, D.C. – is unlike any other I have experienced. Coming from Philadelphia suburbia, the District has been an invigorating breath of fresh air. It seems as though everyone is the city is an innovator, activist, entrepreneur, or artist, and it’s impossible not to be motivated by my impressive peers. I like to call D.C. the “suburban city,” in that it has both the perks of city living (public transportation and never-ending attractions) but also the luxury of green space. Washington D.C. is that friend who is forever humble and calm, while behind closed doors is a remarkable go-getter.

Moving across the globe for a bit, Cape Town is another city that is unmatched in my eyes. With a rich yet tumultuous history on its side, the city overflows with South African pride and passion. Faces of so many colors, and mouths of so many languages, mix to create a city that revels in its diversity. Along with the glamour of the beautiful city, there is also serious grit. Perhaps it was the unfortunate contrast between the sleek buildings of Cape Town’s downtown and the meager homes just on the outskirts; or maybe, the people’s awareness that there is room for growth in social issues. Whatever it was made Cape Town feel unapologetically candid.

Then, there is Auckland. The city, I’ve deemed, that must be one of the happiest places on earth. Not only does New Zealand’s largest metropolis look immaculate, but it also has the ability to make the grumpiest people optimistic. The people are smiling, sun seems to always be shining, and grass is so curiously green. The city brings out an altruistic nature — making you care about other people, the environment, the animals, and the quality of life. It inadvertently motivates its citizens to upkeep the city in the name of sustainability and contentment. In my opinion, Auckland really gives Disney World a run for its money in the happiness competition.

So to me, cities are just as varied as people and their attitudes. The world is a big place, but little did I know about the equally big personalities that exist within it until I started to explore. With that said… get out there, tell me what you feel when you visit a new city (@aysiawoods), and happy travels!

Image: Aysia Woods

Travel

Sometimes, you just need to get away. Get away from the monotony of your day-to-day school responsibilities, job, internships, and stresses. For most of us, it’s unlikely we can jet off to a beautiful, foreign land the second we feel bored. However, I believe it’s possible to experience some of the same awe and excitement of a real adventure by simply exploring some the numerous inspirational travel resources we have available. Here are three resources you can use to quench your wanderlust (for now, at least)!

EXPLORE: Munchies

The energetic, youth-driven media company, known as Vice Media, is one of my favorite tools to learn about something new and get inspired. There are many captivating Vice channels, like Noisey that covers the hip-hop/rap scene and Motherboard that keeps up with technology. My favorite channel is Munchies, which features the hottest hole-in-the-walls and trendiest restaurants while also providing a glimpse into different cities’ social and political culture. From underground Halal restaurants in Los Angeles to ancient fish-cooking traditions in England, Munchies covers it all.

WATCH: Parts Unknown

Produced by CNN and hosted by my celebrity crush/career idol, Anthony Bourdain, the television show Parts Unknown takes viewers across the globe exposing stories, culture, and cuisine from some of the world’s most unfamiliar places. A few of my favorite episodes include Bourdain eating at the top rated restaurant in the world (called Soma, in Copenhagen), exploring ice fishing and Canadian delicacies in Quebec, and stepping into the lives of Detroit natives to see how the city attempts to rebuild itself. The newest season of Parts Unknown airs April 26th at 9pm on CNN. I’ll surely be tuning in and I hope you do to!

READ: The Best American Travel Writing

While visual media — like YouTube and Instagram — satisfy our wanderlust with beautiful images, sometimes words do an even better job. There are so many acclaimed books out there of complied travel essays that simply make you feel as if you’re exploring alongside the author — all you have to do is chose one! One of my favorites is The Best American Travel Writing series, a yearly anthology of travel essays published in Americans magazines. Each year a new guest editor chooses from nearly 100 of the best articles to compile a book full of moving, diverse literature. Talk about being taken on an adventure; this exciting book will do it for you. I urge you to visit your local bookstore and browse through the Travel section to find a book that captivates you!

As Millennials, we are so lucky enough to have the world at our fingertips… literally. Next time you feel like you’re in dire need of a retreat, I hope you can temporarily quench your wanderlust with some of these travel resources!

Image: Flickr

Travel

Airports: we love them for their usefulness, but hate them for the stress they cause. Growing up as an airport frequenter, I want to share a few useful tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way that make navigating even the maddest airports a breeze. Follow theses tips and, who knows, you may begin looking forward to – and even enjoying! – the airport rather than dreading it:

  1. Check-in before the flight.

Most airlines now allow you to check-in online, 24 hours before your flight. This means you can completely avoid ridiculously long lines at the check-in counters. Not only does this option allow you to (sometimes) pick your own seats (window, please!), but it also gives you wiggle room to show up a few minutes behind schedule and still make the flight in perfect time.

  1. Keep accessories minimal and shoes open.

Taking off loads of rings, bracelets, a watch, a belt, and your favorite sports hat can seriously slow going through airport security. No one wants to be that person who is continuous beeping and holding up the already annoying process. To avoid this, be sure to keep accessories, especially metal one, to a minimum. Also, try and wear open-toes shoes like sandals or flip-flops. Most times, TSA will not request these types of shoes be taken off through security. This saves both time and your feet from walking on the cold dirty airport floor.

  1. Ask if there are any first class seats available.

This might sound silly, but you truly never know until you ask! When there are those luxurious, first class seats available, airlines do not always announce it. Make sure to speak kindly and smile wide to the worker at your gate because sometimes airlines will update you for a reasonable price or even for free. Along with this, occasionally airlines overbook and need volunteers to switch flights in exchange for a stipend, free flight, or other perk. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities if your travel plans are flexible.

  1. Don’t skimp on snacks and water.

I always have three things with me while traveling – granola or Chex mix, a fruit, and water. Because you cannot bring any outside food through security, pick up a few healthy, filling snacks from your gate that will last you for at least 12 hours. Usually I will leave these items in my carry-on and make them last until I reach my final destination. It is important to travel with some sustenance in case you do not have time later to pick snacks up or you’re like me and need to eat every few hours to function properly!

  1. Make the most out of a long layover.

Like I said in another article, “why not turn an inconvenient few hours into an opportunity to explore?” Layovers can be pleasant if you plan them wisely. Quickly explore the city if you have a long layover, get a massage, browse the bookstore, or eat a good meal in the gate during a short one. Regardless of how long your hiatus is, if you start to look at your layover as an opportunity you’re bound to enjoy it.

  1. Strategize your carry-on essentials.

It is important to pack your carry-on lightly and cleverly while traveling. Make sure everything you need is there, and necessities are all you have. Along with typical necessities like boarding passes and passports, I always pack a thick pair of socks and over-the-ear headphones. Both of these items keep me feeling calm and comfortable in the airport and on the plane. Pick a few items that keep you level headed, whatever they may be, and remember to pack them on your carry-on. You’d be surprised how much a few familiar objects can lower stress and anxiety levels.

I hope these airport hacks serve you as well as they’ve served me throughout the years. Happy traveling!

Image: Flickr

TravelVolunteerism

“Where am I?” is all that crossed my mind when I was volunteering in South Africa the summer before my freshman year of college. In honor of my high school graduation, my family and I decided to break out of our comfort zone and stray from our usual lounging vacations and plan one that exposed us to a different world. With an organization I would recommend to everyone – Global Vision International (GVI) –  I lived in a town outside of Cape Town called Gordon’s Bay to teach basic English and Math to children at a devastatingly poor, but dedicated school called A.C.J. Phakade Primary. It wasn’t until this remarkable experience that I realized how moving and important giving back, especially in a country as dynamic as South Africa, truly is.

Here are three main reasons you should highly consider “The Rainbow Nation” for your next volunteering venture.

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The children need your help.

Many primary schools around Cape Town require its students to take an entrance exam into high school. While this may seem easy enough, trouble arises for native Xhosa-speaking – one of the country’s 11 official languages, spoken primarily by the black population surrounding Cape Town – students when they have to take the English-only exam. English is not part of school curriculums, so the only way a student knows English is if their parents taught them or they picked it up from American movies. For many of the eager students, an English volunteer is the only chance they have to learn the language well enough to get into high school. If they don’t pass, sadly they are stuck in primary school until they get it right.

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Put your own problems into perspective.

In college, getting a D on a midterm, getting into arguments with friends, and not living in your preferred dorm might seem like the end of the world, but once you explore a slum you begin to see life differently. Surrounding Cape Town are “townships,” poor, rag-tag neighborhoods mainly inhabited by black South Africans who were kicked out of the city during Apartheid. After seeing children come to school wearing no shoes and a school with a rat problem and gaping holes in its walls, you’re bound to realize how fortunate you are.

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Meet people from all over the world.

With GVI, I had the opportunity to meet likeminded young people from all over Europe, Africa, and Australia. It turns out that South Africa is a hot destination for the millennial generation because of its stunning landscapes and Cape Town’s stylish appeal. Even about four years later, I keep in touch with the friends I made and now always have a couch to sleep on in case I visit any of their home countries!

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I urge you to consider all of these points if you are seriously thinking about doing a volunteer trip. Remember, as responsible citizens of the world and Carpe Juvenis enthusiasts, it is up to us to make a better tomorrow!

Image: Photos courtesy of Aysia Woods

CultureLearn

If Ireland is on your list of places to go, take some time to read this combination of Irish authors, history, memoirs, and fictional tales before your travels. Reading about a country you will soon explore will make your adventures rich with knowledge and more fulfilling. Whether you’re reading a book by an Irish author or learning about how the Irish used to live in the 1900’s, there’s nothing like learning as much as you can before a trip to get the most out of it and see those stories come to life.

ireland 1ULYSSES BY JAMES JOYCE

Ulysses is considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature. In this classic novel by Irish writer, James Joyce, the encounters of Leopold Bloom in Dublin on June 16, 1904, are chronicled. Though lengthy, this book is a must-read.

 

ireland 2HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION BY THOMAS CAHILL

If you’re a history buff, this untold story of Ireland’s role in maintaining Western Culture and how Ireland helped Europe transition and evolve from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era will be right up your alley.

 

ireland 3A SECRET MAP OF IRELAND BY ROSITA BOLAND

Rosita Boland takes readers on a tour through Ireland’s 32 counties and shares her extraordinary (and very unusual) travels.

 

ireland 4TO SCHOOL THROUGH THE FIELDS BY ALICE TAYLOR

A charming memoir by Alice Taylor who shares her Irish childhood and the memories that accompany it.

 

ireland 5LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN BY COLUM McCANN

Though this novel takes place in New York City in the 1970’s, Irish author Colum McCann’s writing is worth getting to know before making your way to his homeland.

 

ireland 6THE BACK OF BEYOND: A SEARCH FOR THE SOUL OF IRELAND BY JAMES CHARLES ROY

A noted authority on Irish travel and history, James Charles Roy guides readers (and in the book, a group of Americans), through the backwaters of ancient Ireland.

 

 

ireland 7GULLIVER’S TRAVELS BY JONATHAN SWIFT

A classic of English literature, this novel by Irish writer Jonathan Swift is a satire on human nature and a parody of the traveler’s tales sub-genre. For a literary adventure, pick this book up before your real-life adventures.

 

ireland 8DUBLINERS BY JAMES JOYCE

In Joyce’s collection of short stories, he describes with great detail his observations of the life of Dublin’s poorer classes. As Joyce brings Dublin to life, there’s no way you won’t be immersed in lives of Dubliners in the 1900’s.

 

ireland 9A SHORT HISTORY OF IRELAND BY RICHARD KILLEEN

For a quick read about Irish history. A good starting point and overview before your travels.

 

 

ireland 10THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY BY OSCAR WILDE

Irish writer Oscar Wilde wrote this philosophical novel in 1890, and it’s worth reading before traveling to this author’s homeland.

 

ireland 12THE MODERNISATION OF IRISH SOCIETY: 1848 – 1918 BY JOSEPH LEE

For history and political fans, read about how Ireland became one of the most modern and advanced political cultures in the world at that time. Get a more in-depth look at Ireland’s history and how it modernized.

 

What books on Ireland have you found interesting? Happy reading and safe travels!

CultureTravel

While it is true most travelers prefer non-stop flights to those with any layovers, I say, why not turn an inconvenient few hours into an opportunity to explore? The Greek capital city, Athens, is not only a common European layover stop, but also a beautiful fusion of ancient history with a youthful flair. Having been lucky enough to experience the spirited city a few times now, I’ve created the ultimate layover guide that will help you make the most of your quick pit stop in Athens. Let’s get into it; or as the Greeks would say, Opa!

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8 hours (7 am – 3pm)

As most flights from the States land in Europe bright and early in the morning, there is plenty of time to do all the necessary bits. By “necessary bits,” of course this means none other than the Acropolis. This massive ancient citadel hovers over the entire city, as you can see it from nearly anywhere in the city. Wind back and forth across the rocky outcrop for about 15 minutes until you reach the summit, and you are in for an unforgettable experience. While on top of the Acropolis, not only can you see a panoramic view of Athens, but you can also see the Parthenon and other architectural masterpieces that have been restored to look as proud as they did in 5th century BC. Take it all in and think about how much world history you are standing on top of…literally.

When you’re ready to move on from the beauty of the Acropolis, I recommend hiking down and walking just a few blocks to the Acropolis Museum, where hundreds of rescued, restored, and collected artifacts are housed from the ruins. Getting up close to each piece and examining its every intricate detail is a remarkable thing.

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12 Hours (7 am – 7 pm)

Spend time perusing and people watching in the animated, and ever loving Monastiraki Square, located near the historical Plaka neighborhood. To this day, I have never seen so much affection in one place. In the square, Greeks are often tightly hugging dear friends, passionately kissing their lovers, or jesting about with adorably dressed young children. Shop the windy side streets and browse all the flea markets, souvenirs, and trinkets. It’s a wonderful place to relax, enjoy your company, and of course grab a quick bite!

Thanasis is a restaurant well known for their mouth-watering souvlakis, a popular Greek dish with your choice of grilled meat, tzatziki sauce, veggies, and sometime fries, tightly wrapped in a fluffy pita. It’s conveniently located right on Monastiraki Sqaure, so you can involve your taste buds in the love fest, as well.

In case you want a more formal meal, only a block or so away from the square is an ultramodern, luxurious hotel called A for Athens. Take their terrifying small elevator (it’s worth it, I promise!) to the very top floor and get ready for more great views, food, and drinks. The magnificently lit Acropolis and Greek techno music serve as a backdrop while you sip on your beverage of choice and enjoy modern takes on traditional Greek cuisine. Keep an ear out for all of the languages you’re bound to hear surrounding you – it is remarkable how many international people flock to this great spot!

18 Hours (7 am – 1 am)

Make your way to the main square in Athens, Syntagma Square. This is often referred to as the “heart” of the city as Greek Parliament is located here, not to mention a common site for political demonstrations. In the square are various food vendors and a lovely park area, while the side streets contain some of Greece’s best shopping. For all the serious shoppers, this is a top priority before your layover comes to an end. There are international chain stores, but also boutiques unique to Greece, so you really get a taste of everything fashion-wise!

Finally wrap up your super quick layover in Athens by taking the metro to Soho Bar Athens in the Gazi neighborhood. This club and bar has a neat atmosphere, and is usually full of young professionals and or the “starving artist” type. Prepare for your next flight with a cold glass of ouzo and call it a day!

Image: Aysia Woods (Acropolis and Monastiraki Square); Carpe Juvenis (Greek Flag)

CultureTravel

With the perfect blend of Southern charm and eclectic flavor, the fine city of Savannah should absolutely be on your list of cities to visit. Since I was a child, my grandparents hauled my brother and I all across their historic city, exposing us to every neat nook and cranny it has to offer. Sprawling with hundreds of acres of lush, Spanish moss-draped parks and stunning 18th century architecture, Savannah is surely worth a trip — a day trip, at the very least! If you ever find you have a day in “The Hostess City of the South,” I have the perfect itinerary for you.

Morning

Rise and shine – it’s time to get the day started! In my opinion, there is no better way to start off a lovely Savannah day than with a visit to Forsythe Park. At 30 pristine acres, this park is the largest in the city. Feel free to wake up your mind and body with a jog or yoga under the cool, mossy trees. If it’s Saturday, take time perusing the massive farmers market hosted there. This is also a great time to practice your “southern charm,” as Savannah locals love to smile and chat.

After your morning exercise, get ready to chow down at one of the best breakfast spots in the city, J. Christopher’s. This is a regional chain that actually began in Atlanta, but lucky for us, they converted a garage right in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District into one of their laid-back establishments. Go for their Blueberry Crunchcakes (pancakes made with crunchy granola) or one of their many breakfast skillets, with a coffee served in their mismatched coffee mugs. They even have a pet menu for your trusty sidekick. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Afternoon

Now it is time for a history lesson. Old Savannah Tours has been providing tourists with fun, comprehensive trolley tours of the Historic District since 1979. I recommend the unlimited Historic On/Off Tour because you can pick and choose what Savannah sites to explore on your own time. Be sure to hop-off at The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to see its exquisite murals, the Sorrel-Weed House to experience true antebellum architecture, and the City Market for a bit of shopping.

In case you haven’t already grabbed a quick bite during the tour, try to make it to Joe’s Homemade Café in midtown Savannah. I admit, I have not made it there yet, but I hear this place is all-around remarkable. Joe’s is not a sit-down restaurant; they specialize in “picnic” and “to-go” foods, such as their infamous Forsyth sandwich and lemon cheesecake. Sounds like a winner to me.

Evening

Properly reflect on your day over a delicious meal on the rooftop of Local 11 Ten, a restored 1950’s bank-turned-contemporary-restaurant. This trendy spot changes its menu with the seasons, featuring innovative winter dishes like confit pork belly with pan roasted quail, warm caselvetrano olives with bacon, smoked bone marrow, and Sapelo Island clams. Relish in the soft house music and enjoy this truly unique dining experience.

For those wanting something a bit more soulful, try Huey’s on the River, a restaurant that actually serves authentic New Orleans’s cuisine. Their menu has the works. I’m talking shrimp & grits, fried green tomatoes, filé gumbo, Po’boys, and beignets. In proper Louisiana fashion, the place is friendly and just the right amount of noisy.

Last and surely not least, take a night stroll along Savannah’s lively River Street. Along the wide Savannah River, this cobblestoned street is always bustling with crowds enjoying nightlife, street performers, antique shops, and quaint boutiques. Stop by River Street Sweets to pick up the necessary Southern candies – pralines and fudge, of course – and then continue down toward the river to sit and enjoy the cooling breeze.

Time-Permitting

If you have a bit more time during the day, check out some contemporary art at the SCAD Museum of Art or be brave and go on a walking ghost tour of the most haunted city in America.

There we have it – a day of fun in the ever-charming city of Savannah. Enjoy!

*Going to Philadelphia? Check out these places!

Image: Aysia Woods

SkillsTravel

I am the type of person who likes to be prepared for every situation. That includes making sure that my car is prepared for every situation as well. There are a lot of helpful items that can be kept in a plastic bin in your trunk or the glove compartment just in case you need them. They can also be removed if you need the space. Mileage varies on which items you want to keep in your own car, but here are a few ideas:

1. Jumper Cables
Use these if your battery dies. A good Samaritan can help with the rest.

2. Tire Repair Tools
A tire gauge will let you know the pressure in your tires. Other tools include a jack, a tire iron, and a spare tire. Failing that, you can use a tire inflater or sealer that might get you to a gas station.

3. Duct Tape
It can fix all kinds of things.

4. Your Car Manual
I know that no one wants to read the manual but if you have a specific question you could find the answer in there.

5. Flashlight
You can use your phone for this. However, if you need a light for an extended period of time, you can drain your battery. Keep an actual flashlight around, just in case.

6. Road Flare
Safety first when it’s dark out or you need to grab people’s attention!

7. Small Fire Extinguisher
You may never need it but it could be life-saving if you do.

8. Your Insurance and Vehicle Information

9. Bluetooth Device
Handsfree phone calls are the safest way to go.

10. Phone Charger
You never know when you might need it.

11. Cleaning Products
I would recommend plastic bags, tissues and/or paper towels for any kind of mess that you encounter. If you’re really into cleaning, you can include a hand-held vacuum or an air freshener.

12. Non-Perishable Food
I recommend a bottle of water and a food item that doesn’t need to be heated or prepared like jerky or granola bar. You can keep this in a collapsible cooler if you’re on a road-trip. This will come in handy if you’re stuck somewhere.

13. Anything that can protect you and your car from the elements
A spare umbrella or jacket will help when you are outside of the car. I would also recommend a towel or a change of clothes to avoid ruining the interior of your car in different kinds of weather.

14. Blanket
A blanket can cost around $5 and will be helpful if someone in your passenger seat wants to take a nap or if you need to get warm.

15. Extra Money
You may have money in your wallet at all times. If not, keep some spare change or a small amount of money in your car. You might need money if you run into an unexpected tollbooth or you need to tip a tow truck driver.

16. Small First Aid Kit
You can go to the hospital for the big stuff. This is just for small injuries and won’t take up much room.

17. Sunglasses
These will protect your eyes and help you drive better.

In the end, what you keep in your car is your business. It comes down to what suits your needs. For example, if your share a car maybe you don’t have a say about what goes in. Let this be a starting point for you to drive more safely. It can also be a great list to prepare for the road trip of your dreams! Happy driving!

Image: Pexels

Travel

Welcome to the home of the Tastykake, Rocky Balboa, Wawa, and, of course, the cheesesteak… I am taking you to Philadelphia! Growing up, my family and I would travel from my hometown of Collegeville, a suburb of Philly, into the city nearly every weekend to explore museums, eat wonderful food, and check out other hotspots. For you, dear traveler, I have come up with the perfect itinerary to help plan your first day trip to this lively, multi-dimensional city. Welcome to The City of Brotherly Love!

Morning

For breakfast, try one of the Green Eggs Café locations. This trendy, eco-friendly restaurant is dedicated to serving locally produced foods at reasonable prices, while allowing their customers to support the movement by using only recycled paper and dishware. I highly recommend the Smoked Atlantic Lox Omelet or the “Kitchen Sink” (think a skillet of eggs, cheese, potatoes, peppers, biscuits, and gravy everywhere). The portions are rather large, but don’t worry because you can ask for a biodegradable take-out container.

After the amazing meal, you are surely going to want to walk off the food coma. Spend a few hours browsing the collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Located at the end of the scenic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this massive museum holds the most beautiful European, American, and Asian artwork. Don’t forget to run up the museum steps in proper Rocky fashion!

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Afternoon

From the museum, walk through the bustling Center City neighborhood to reach Reading Terminal Market. You’re going to brave some lines and crowds here, but this market is a prime location to eat and browse. The market carries nearly everything you could imagine, from local and exotic produce, Amish specialties, meat, seafood, handmade confections, flowers, to cookbooks and other trinkets. The delicious aromas will make you hungry for lunch here, so head over to my favorite vendor in the market and favorite cheesesteak joint in Philly, Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagie. If this is your first visit to Philly, order a classic and prepare yourself for a serious mouth party. After all, President Obama ate here, so you know it’s good.

By this point it’s time to say goodbye to the market and get ready for a little history lesson. Make your way to Philadelphia’s Historic District, which is full of museums and historic buildings. Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States and birthplace of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and Betsy Ross’ home and first American flag. Stroll along the grassy squares and cobblestone streets, making sure to pass by the Liberty Bell, and imagine what life was like while the United States was young.

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Evening

The fun-filled Philly day trip is sadly coming to an end, so it’s time to wrap up with a glorious dinner. There are few options here. For the Francophiles and wine-lovers, try the quaint Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro near Center City and make sure to order the Beef Bourguignon. If that is not your ideal cuisine, right next door is El Vez, known for their funky rock n’ roll atmosphere and tasty enchiladas. Finally for the sports fan, go to Chickie’s and Pete’s, the Philly sports fan’s go-to stop for crab fries. I guarantee after eating at any of these restaurants, you’ll be more than ready to head back home and recoup after a great day of eating and exploring.

Time-Permitting

If you have a few extra minutes to spend in the city, be sure to stroll by the water at Penn’s Landing, shop around Rittenhouse Square, or bike in Fairmount Park.

And there you have it – a whole day of activities for your eventful day trip to Philadelphia. Time to grab a friend and make it happen!

Image: Aysia Woods

Travel

Many people love to travel. Yet some complain that they don’t have the time or money to do so. The truth is that there’s always a reason not to travel. We need to find some way to make it all work. A weekend trip could be the answer to all these problems. Here are some reasons why a weekend trip might work for you:

1. It’s Less Expensive

When you go on a week long trip for Christmas vacation or spring break, the costs can add up. However, if you are only traveling for a couple of days, you are also spending a lot less on food, hotels, and shopping.

2. It Takes Less Time Away From Your Regular Schedule

It’s hard to take off work or school to travel. You might miss something important or it might take you awhile to save up vacation days. With a weekend trip you can leave right after class. You might not need to take any time off, depending on your schedule. It may seem too short to be a good trip but frequent travelers say we must use every spare day we can. You can get a great experience in very little time.

3. It Forces You To Explore

Instead of saving up for popular destinations like Hawaii, New York, or California, weekend trips are convenient if you stay close. You could book a flight to parts unknown, but you could also take a train or a long drive to a neighboring state. Even if you are not at the most popular destinations, you are seeing a little more of the world.

4. It Takes Virtually No Planning

There are 52 weekends a year. That gives you plenty of opportunities to take off on an adventure. You may want to have a couple of sites in mind so that you can make the most of your time. Either way, the journey can often be the best part of traveling.

Take the time for a weekend trip. There are so many things out there to do. Make the effort to take a trip. You will be rewarded with an adventure and all the great memories that go with it.

What is your dream weekend trip destination? Let us know in the comments below!

Image: Joe Lodge

CultureTravel

Globe-trotting and sight-seeing may not always be within our reach. Sometimes our travel funds are running low or we don’t have a long enough break to really go anywhere. For those of you fresh off a semester at school or enjoying time off from work, turn your vacation into a staycation. Staying at home to create your own leisure moments is often times the best way to unwind and stay frugal during the holidays. Travel time: zero. Destination: relaxation.

Ramen and Rom Coms

You know you love it. Invite some friends and family over for a cozy night in. Supply the packages of ramen and have your guests choose their favorite romantic comedies to watch. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s an easy last minute hangout idea. (Life points to the person who chooses Crazy Stupid Love.)

Easy-Peasy Bath Salts

Here is what you’ll need for a luxurious and silky bath time experience. This does wonders for dry skin sufferers, especially in the winter time. It will calm your skin while the epsom salt can help ease joint pain and muscular aches.

 1 cup of sea salt
 ½ cup of baking soda
 2 cups of Epsom salt
 Mix well in a big bowl
 Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil
 Put your mix into a jar and add a few spoonfuls to your next bath!

Tea Party for One

If you’re looking for some solo time, enjoy a piping hot cup of tea and relax with a good book. It’s always refreshing to read for fun (and not for a grade), but if your brain feels fried from final exams and essay-writing, try audible.com to check out their great selection of audio books. Listen to your books instead and sip on some green tea mixed with fresh mint leaves and a dash of sugar.

Music and Mind

Free-writing is both a powerful and cathartic process. Allow yourself to free your conscience completely with 20 minutes of free-writing. There are no rules or prompts or deadlines, just your stream of thoughts put on paper. Play some music (preferably loudly) while you write to fuel your creativity. You never know, you might get a poem, a letter to self, a letter to a loved one, or the start of a series of journal entries. Tip: listening to music and rainymood.com simultaneously creates a wondrous audio experience that is definitely worth trying.

Image: Mike

CultureTravel

The winter break for a native New Yorker can seem pretty uninteresting. After all, I’ve been hanging around the five boroughs for about two decades, and the crowded museums and expensive restaurants and confused tourists lose their luster. The best thing to do is to find a few friends and do some cool things together. Even a seemingly sad trip to a noodle restaurant can be great bonding time. Here are a few things that anyone, including local college students, can do this winter break in the city!

1. Ice skating

I know. I know. You go every year and you’ve given up trying to do a triple lutz years ago. But have you been to every ice skating rink in the city? People always go to Rockefeller or Central Park’s ice skating rinks, but there is one in all of the five boroughs. My personal favorite is Bryant Park because if you own your own pair it’s free admission, and because I get to gorge myself on food in the holiday markets outside. I also tend to go in the middle of the day so it isn’t terribly crowded. Each rink has its own vibe, so go on different skate days during the weekdays (less crowded) and see if you find your own favorite. Speaking of food…

2. Food Day in Flushing

While everyone thinks of Manhattan and Brooklyn, there’s also Queens. Specifically, Flushing. It is mainly a Chinese neighborhood, meaning there are tons of restaurants and shops to go to. Grab a few friends (vegetarian friendly!) and head up to Flushing via 7 train. Spend the day walking around, going to food courts, mulling over ­posted menus in the window, and dare your friends to try to eat something they can’t pronounce. You never know what you’ll find!

3. Bushwick Shopping

A lot of my friends live in Bushwick and commute to school via the L train. Along that line are a lot of new businesses, and with that, shopping opportunities. Whether they be thrift shops, jewelry shops, or small cafes, Bushwick is a good place to go explore. If you have a friend who lives there, make some plans to do a tour-­and-­explore day. A nice brunch and a girl’s shopping day, and since it’s the holidays, what better time to shop?

There are plenty of things to do in the city, even for the jaded New Yorker. Find some friends and explore the boroughs. You never know what you may find!

Image: AntheaAtlas