Business before pleasure (a graduation)

It was hard to ignore the beauty and nostalgia walking around campus the last days of my last semester. The sun made an appearance; the snow melted after our April blizzard; The lawns were full of frisbee and football and friends. There was a sale at our bookstore but I didn’t need any of that gear anymore. Then I realized: The next time I would walk through this campus lawn, I would be a visitor. College would just be a memory… It already felt like one.

But then I went to graduation and was painfully bored and gooooodbye nostalgia. Oh and bye bye to you too, Carlson School of Management. 

It was kind of like a wedding. Yay! Ceremony. Here are all my old professors and freshman-year friends drinking at our bar. And oh! Typical Lindsey moment: Lose tassel the moment I leave my house… retrace steps and contemplate where to buy a tassel on graduation day… find tassel only to drop it in the portapotty urinal. Laugh because it’s funny and it’s college and college is an excuse for all mistakes.

But then the pee tassel switched to the left side, the ficticious curtain closed and I got sent back to my life and what’s that look like now?

I always have a plan, but I don’t know where I’m going to live, who I’ll see again, or who/if I’ll date.

All I do know is that I spent 4 years of my life at this college. It’s easy to ignore the time ticking, but I’m sitting back outside on the campus lawn today. For once, I’m not listening to music. Instead, I’m taking it all in. And I like it.

Thanks, University of Minnesota.

Special shout-outs: 

star wars tie

My dad for being awesome and also having this awesome Star Wars tie

graduation family picture

My super supportive family

IMG-2715

My first college friend #June2014

IMG-2810

My tassel for never being too far gone

The abroad article you haven’t read

Life provides so many incredible opportunities and we should take them… but not all of them. This post has been on my heart for a while, and I think it’s finally time to put it out into the big world of the Internet: studying abroad was the hardest and worst time of my life.

Let’s just fast-forward past the part where you think I sound ungrateful and horrible by even daring to type those words. On the odd chance that I can reach someone who needs to hear this, I’m going to trek on. Here’s what happened:

I went abroad due to social pressures from school and peers

I’m not placing blame, I went completely on my own accord, but everyone thinks that to go abroad is some crazy rite of passage or a do-or-die life experience that a person can’t pass up.

I knew myself but ignored it. Listen: YOU are your own best research.

Somewhere in my heart, I knew studying abroad for a semester wasn’t my cup of tea—although I did have a few wonderful cups of tea in London and Scotland—but I went anyway.

Still, I did a lot of research beforehand.

During that research phase, part of me hoped to stumble upon a blog of someone with a negative experience, or just an unbiased one, but Google is flooded with people singing high praises to Europe for its life-changing properties.

I guess I have “changed”, but not the way you think

Not because I found the best version of myself in Italy or ate so much pasta that my mind was drugged up on carbs. It’s because I underwent incredible challenges and came out on the other side. This is something that I am grateful for now. And it is tempting to say that it was worth it, but to this day I look back and wish that I had trusted myself more.

This is for anyone. This is for everyone. This is for me.

I’m writing this to myself. I’m writing this to anyone who is on the fence about going abroad and needs a different opinion. I’m writing this to those who have gone abroad and felt lonelier than they have ever been in their lives.

You don’t have to explain yourself

There were multiple reasons that my stay in Italy wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, despite how much I tried to love it. I won’t go into them because I don’t want to depress anyone and I don’t quite have the proper words to go further than what I’ve shared here… I just want you to know that it’s not your fault if you don’t want to go, or if you do go and don’t love it. It’s not your fault if your mental health gets the best of you.

It’s not your fault. It’s okay.
No matter what you choose, remember this: your experience is your own, and in that way it is beautiful.

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: