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

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

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