Why you should go to the career fair anyway (when you’d rather die than talk to strangers with job titles and probably no student debt)

I’m honest with people about my path in life. I worked really hard to get into the college I’m currently at, but when I got here I realized it didn’t feel like me. I don’t want to run off on another tangent here… I just want to hone in on why it’s so important to keep trying, even in unlikely places. Especially in unlikely places.

College sucks.

You lose millions of dollars (exaggeration), drink too much (sometimes), and cry for you mom on Mondays (or Monday-Wednesday… or, like, every day).

College also doesn’t suck.

Beyond the pressure of doing well, there’s new friends and adventures and all that cliche stuff that’s only cliche because it’s true.

On top of all of this, there is also a career waiting for you on the other side. Hopefully. That’s what people go to college for, right? It’s a pretty intimidating idea. What if four years pass and there’s nothing waiting on the other side? What if you reach the finish line and don’t feel any different than when you started?

Regardless, let’s talk career fair. What’s not to love about a bunch of professional powerhouses in one massive location? What’s not to love about trying to iron your shirt with a hair straightener and then running out of time to actually straighten your own hair? What’s not to love about drowning in a sea of suits, where you’re afraid no one will see you?

Not my ideal day. Quite a stretch, actually. But let me tell ya, Sophomore year I went to the career fair for practice, and it changed my life.

A simple connection I made there, talking to a random lady, landed me an internship a year later, which took me onto some incredible learning and career opportunities. I hate to think what would be different if I hadn’t gone to the career fair. If I hadn’t accepted a few hours of networking and feeling out of place.

Opportunity is knocking, undergrads. Pick up your portfolio and answer.

A letter to my parents

Some things I remember about growing up:

  • Never questioning whether I’m good enough
  • Letting me have the biggest bowl of pudding, or taking the butt of bread because you knew I hated it
  • Reading my favorite books before bed
  • “Go Fish” and Butterfly Kisses
  • Rotating my tires on college breaks
  • Spoiling me with back rubs and encouragement to get through the years
  • It’s late and my brain is in overdrive and I can’t even think of all the small and large things you two have done for me over the years but this is about .000876% of what I want to say

Mom: you worked nights when I was a kid so that you could spend your days with us. As a kid, I took this for granted. I didn’t realize the strain that must’ve had, or how tired you must’ve been. All I knew was that you made me lunch and played in the snow with me. All I knew was that you’d make funfetti cake and take the first piece out because you knew it’d get messed up and wanted to save the best ones for me and my brother. You always wanted the best for us. You still do.

Dad: you’re the hardest worker and I always know you love me by your actions. (People always say that actions speak louder than words.) In this case, long ice cream drives speak volumes. And speaking of volumes, you got me hooked on reading at a young age. This is the most precious gift you can give: time, attention, and the passion to read. I’ll always remember that you supported my goals as much as, if not more then, me. From free-throw contests to piano to tennis. As two people with the same personality, I feel understood and respected and important to you.

Thank you.

P.S. See you either this weekend or for GRADUATION.

Best,

Your daughter

Beautiful view of Florence, Italy

Traveling alone, and other Italian things you should know

So, you’re going to Italy. Whether it’s on a vacation or to live, here are a few things you should know:

  • Laundry takes 3 hours—at it’s fastest. Other options include a 9-hour cycle and a 12-hour cycle. Most Italian homes don’t have dryers, so don’t plan on washing something and wearing it out the same night. Plan ahead.
  • Living in a foreign country can be stressful, and you may find yourself stress eating. The only difference is that here, you’re bombarded with beautifully crafted pizzas to binge on during those times. A curse and a blessing, I say.
  • Uh, paper. It’s not 8.5×11 in Italy. It’s longer and doesn’t fit in little American folders. Quite annoying for schoolwork, but if you plan ahead I’d recommend not bringing school supplies. Better yet, don’t go to school while you’re abroad. Go exploring.
  • One of the cutest things I saw in Florence happened in the early morning: parents holding their children’s hands and walking them to school. Imagine brick-lined streets, kids playing in puddles, and the locals being the only ones crowding the streets. Innocent beauty. Untainted. I don’t have words. Get up early during the school year and see for yourself.
  • Locals love giving Americans free stuff to get them to come back. This may be dishonest depending on your situation, but always tell them you’re on a long vacation—at least for a month or two. Your first time in they want to hook you, so expect free bread, wine, and/or limoncello.
  • When shops close up in the afternoons, somewhere between 2-6PM, the streets do a 180. With the garage-style doors pulled down, the magic of Florence is full of tin walls, graffiti, and sketchy meanderers. (During prime tourist season, starting around April, you may not notice this as much because streets will be so crowded. Good luck to you, I say. Good luck with the tiny sidewalks.)
  • American music is a big thing in bars. That’s all.
  • Italians are fricken loud. In my apartment, the neighbors upstairs fought all the time. And not like the windows were open and we happened to hear them raise their voices. NO, I wish. It was more like a fight between two tigers that no walls could hope to contain. Yikes. (I hope they’re doing all right.)
  • Soo, traveling alone… do it if you can. Yes, it might make loved ones back home uncomfortable, and you should definitely check the safety of the area you’re going, but it is so worth it to discover something on your own.

A final thought to leave with: traveling—especially alone—has made me love and hate people. For every person willing to take a later stop on the train to help, there’s another waiting to take advantage of American ignorance. At the end of the day—whether speaking German, Czech, Italian, Spanish, or English—we all laugh in the same language.

Art in Italy; Historical; Painting

funny children drawing

How do you handle the past?

A few months back my parents sold my childhood home, and this past Christmas break is the longest stretch I’ve had to reflect and refocus for quite some time. It got me thinking about the moving process, of what we gather throughout our lives and what we leave behind:

  • People: whether we want it to or not, big moves can cut ties with those we’ve known all our lives. You know the ones: you aren’t best friends anymore but you like knowing they live a block away and that on Sundays you’ll sit behind the same family in church. These people are your constants. They make up your life and help build your world. Moving provides a chance to choose who you keep in your life on your journey. Moving provides a chance to look back and appreciate, or move on, from the company you once kept.
  • Toys/ideas: seeing the old dolls I took to the pool on sunny days with grandma, and holding old books with pages worn, almost brought me back to how I felt then. The innocence and curiosity in the games I played and stories I read. The ginormous bubble of excitement that only a child can feel by spending a perfect day with people they love. The whole world was massive and exciting and somehow very, very simple.
  • Then there are connections between toys, people, and ideas. Such as this sticky frog that lived on our ceiling ever since Kindergarten. Taking that little thing down last year brought a wave of emotions as things I hadn’t thought about in a while flooded back. Like the idea of innocent first love. Of countless Mario Kart 64 races and chucking cherries at each other in the backyard. Of simplicity and hope and all the things you carry around as a child before the world takes them from you.

All of these ideas stretched before me like a timeline of my life. These memories and objects are proof that I existed at all.

Even though life is more confusing now, there was a time when it all made sense. And I know that there will be glimpses of that childlike excitement again. Maybe not the excitement of my first crush, but the excitement of having money to take care of myself and the excitement of finding another soul that understands mine wholly.

Isn’t that thrilling and terrifying, but mostly thrilling?

My processing of the past makes me wonder about all of you: do you try to recall memories or ignore them? I find I don’t realize when the past is holding me back, and I’d like to stretch you to think about how you handle memories: suppression or expression or… any other way?

How to Handle Seeing More Than One Museum in a Day

About a year ago, I was headed to Italy to embark on my abroad adventure. To those of you who followed me, thank you! And to those who just like to read about travel or are planning on taking their own trip, you are in the right spot! I’ve compiled below a collection of my finest abroad advice, along with some new tips on how to handle seeing more than one museum a day… because you know when you get there, you’re going to want to take it all in instead of slowing down like a sensible traveler.

So without further ado, How to Handle Seeing More Than One Museum in a Day:

  • You’re going to want to sit down for this. Literally, just rest your weary traveler’s feet and sit down for a hot minute. This serves a dual purpose: 1) it allows you to not run yourself thin after spending 3 hours in the Louvre and 2) it makes time for you to actually look at the things around you. I don’t mean the art, you’re going to see enough of that. I mean everything. There’s too much to take in, truly, but marching into museums and hoping to see and do everything will just leave you exhausted, overwhelmed, and irritated.
  • Don’t let anyone else craft your experience. Not the guy selling discount tickets on a sketchy street or your best friend who you normally aim to please. To capitalize on your time away, there’s no option but to follow your own instincts even if that means you want to stare at the same statue for 5 hours while your friends are checking out Mona Lisa and traipsing around the halls. Just don’t let the pressure of what other people want to do cloud your own desires.
  • This last point is obvious but if I’ve learned anything in college, it’s that repetition is sometimes the only way to make things really sink in: SOAK IT IN!Let the art move you. If it doesn’t, go buy a snack and people watch outside while other people look at art. No one’s making you go to these museums… but if you’re going to pay for admission, give it a try. Art has a way of sneaking up on us. It has a way of inspiring us. So let it.

Louvre statue

Also, prepare for your travels by catching up on these:

“It’s magical to do something when you think no one is going to care.”

The above is a quote from Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket, AKA a genius, AKA author of my favorite children’s series: A Series of Unfortunate Events) in an article from Stanford Daily.

I stumbled upon it because recently I’ve decided to start writing a middle-grade novel. Naturally, I wanted to seek out advice from the brilliant MG authors before me, and Lemony Snicket just happens to be one of the best. His quote reminded me of something I’ve been telling myself for a long while, which is to stop focusing on perfection and just focus on telling the story that I want to be told, to not worry about how it will be received or if anyone will pick it up for publication.

The real beauty of creating stories is that they’re your stories. Don’t take that magic away from yourself. If you love them and nurture them and go to bed at night knowing you did your best, that will bring more satisfaction than writing towards what you think everyone else wants to read.

It’s really hard to silence the pressures around us, but I’m going to read this quote when I’m going through one of those hard patches and remind myself to keep trucking along with what I think needs to be said.

university of minnesota in winter

Pass your finals! Take a deep breath!

“Why is snow so hard to capture in a picture? I should google it.”

“NO! I should study.”

“But I’ll be wondering about this the whole time and won’t be able to focus on anything until I know. Maybe I should buy a real camera instead of using my iPhone. How much would that cost?” *googles camera, googles iPhoneX, thinks about why the Xbox One X is named the way it is, thinks about how my brother bought me an Xbox…* “I love my family. I should call my parents and brother and grandma and cousins and track down that one family member who fell off the family tree awhile ago.” *pays for subscription to family tracking services* “Maybe I should just hire a private investigator. Oh! Maybe they could track my stolen wallet and phones too. Nah, my phones are probably being taken apart and sold.” *thinks about theft, thinks about child labor in foreign countries, thinks about how unfair the world is and how we all die no matter what our grades are or how much effort we put in* 

Does this sound like the conversation anyone else has with themselves during stressful periods? It makes me wanna stay in bed and avoid all of my responsibilities. What is it about having so much to do that makes a person unable move or start any of it?

I tried something today in the midst of an almost-meltdown: getting out of bed and going outside.

Revolutionary. I know.

It’s snowing today and I focused on watching a couple thick snowflakes on their journey to the ground where they inevitably got destroyed… it’s sad that they can’t help but fall to their death. Anyway, finding a medial thing to watch brought an odd relaxation.

(Something else I do regularly is listen to a couple hardcore songs like “Afterlife” by Avenged Sevenfold to get some anger out and then get back to it… but that might not be your thing.)

Hate the class? Trust me, it’s possible to fail and you’ll hate the class even more the second time. If you’re a chemist, you don’t wanna take English classes twice. If you’re a marketing student, you probably don’t wanna take managerial and financial accounting more than you have to… if you do, there’s something wrong with you or you’re in the wrong major.

Don’t focus on perfectly acing these damn tests, focus on passing them so you can spend your life doing things that actually excite you!!!