How to Travel as a Recent College Grad

How to Travel as a Recent College Grad

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I graduated college over a year ago, and since then I have made it a goal of mine to travel as much as I can. I know that may be pretty cliche to say, but it’s true! As someone who didn’t really begin traveling until I started college, I knew that I wanted to utilize my post-grad life (and my employer’s flexible PTO) and see the world as much as I could.

But how did I do this, if I’m in student-loan debt and I work full-time? While I know that travel is definitely not accessible for everyone, I wanted to make it accessible for myself. So here’s how I make it happen.

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Figure out your priorities

It’s true: one of the most important things you have to do for yourself if you want to achieve any goal is figure out your priorities. When I was getting ready to graduate, I had a few goals in mine. I wanted to get a steady job with a reasonable vacation policy (C and I had plans to visit Disney at the time, and we booked that trip before we even had jobs lined up HAHA). I wanted to make enough money so I could start paying off my student loans as soon as I received my first paycheck. And I wanted to save money by either living back home with my parents or living someplace affordable for me.

So what happened? I accepted the first job offer I received, I started paying off my loans two weeks after graduation, and I moved in with my boyfriend’s parents. Now this may not seem like the perfect plan, but it was a plan that worked for me. Currently, I have a new job (thank goodness) that I love, I’m still living with C’s family (though we’ll move when he goes to med school), and I am still able to pay off loans. And it’s working. It’s not perfect, but I’m grateful every day.

But as you can see, I made travel a priority. In my two full-time positions since grad, I have been given the privilege of flexible PTO, which has allowed me to take almost monthly trips back home to my family and every-so-often vacations with C and my friends. This isn’t realistic for everyone, but I tried my best to make it realistic for me.

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Be flexible

By this, I mean be flexible with your destinations, your travel dates, and your accommodations.

When we graduated, we decided with our group of friends that we wanted to plan a trip in the future so we could all reunite and have a set date to see each other. But one person in the group wouldn’t be available until almost 10 months after graduation. Even though this seemed far away, we booked an Airbnb anyway: we all decided we would rather have the possibility of something far in advance to look forward to than nothing at all. We opted for an Airbnb because it was way more affordable for a 5- or 6-person group than individual hotel rooms, and we traveled to Honolulu because it was the most affordable flight to Hawaii we could find.

Why did this work? Because we were flexible! We weren’t too picky with our destination, we booked super far in advance, and we chose to stay somewhere that we knew would work for everyone. It wasn’t perfect, but in the end, it was absolutely a dream come true.

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Don’t write off quick or local trips

This has to be something that has helped me keep my little adventure bug alive for the past year. I don’t write off quick or local trips as not being exciting or worthwhile. This is because travel doesn’t have to be far away or expensive in order to be thrilling or fun. You can take a one-night trip to a place you’ve never been or a staycation in a nearby city and still have an awesome time.

Before I started working in San Francisco, a few months ago two dear friends of mine took a trip up to the Bay. The three of us spent a weekend in a hotel in the middle of SF, and we had an amazing time! This was one of my favorite trips I have taken in the past year, and it isn’t because I spent my entire savings on a plane ticket. Rather, it’s because of the company I had. We laughed, we ate, and we explored. It didn’t matter that I stayed somewhere just an hour away from where I live. No matter where we would have gone, it would have been amazing.

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True, I work my butt off so I can have the chance to see new places. And I am planning to keep doing it until I can’t anymore. But the point is, travel doesn’t have to be impossible for a recent grad in debt. You just have to know what you want and go after it.

Side note: I didn’t include trips like checking Kayak for hotel deals, using Google Flights to track airfare, and searching the best times of year to travel to each destination. There are plenty of resources online that have these tips, and I’m still new to the traveling game myself. But if you have any questions, feel free to comment below. 🙂

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Time for Another Life Update

Time for Another Life Update

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HELLOOOOOOO internet world!

It’s time for another life update.

It has been almost one year since graduation, and that is absolutely mind-boggling to me.

Here’s what has happened since my undergrad days came to a close:

I got my first full-time job in the Bay Area, where my awesome boyfriend was born and raised.

I began my freelance writing career after I met an amazing writer and mentor through a happenstance LinkedIn request. 

I traveled…a lot! We went to Walt Disney World, Taiwan, and Hawaii, and I’ve made many trips to my hometown in between. 

And after many restless nights, morning meltdowns, and seemingly overwhelming situations, I finally felt secure in my life and choices. And that is really cool. 

The truth is, graduating college really wasn’t glamorous for me (cue the Fergie song getting stuck in your head…you’re welcome;). I have felt VERY lost more often than I’d like to. I miss school, I miss my friends, I miss my family and my hometown, and I miss the feeling of limbo that college brings.

College for me was this awesome in-between life stage where I lived in this imaginary world of exam prep and thesis writing, where I could see my friends whenever I wanted, and I could eat as much junk food as I wanted and never feel bad about it. I felt safe in college. I felt at home. And when all of that ended, I felt so lost for a really long time.

But this past year has taught me way more than I ever thought I needed to learn. Life isn’t always going to work out exactly how we plan it to…and in my case, I had no idea how I wanted this year to go. It has taken a lot of adjusting and even more “soul searching” (yup, that’s right, I’ve searched for my soul, it happens), and I am not even sure if I am 100% sure that I am making the right decisions all of the time.

But what keeps me going on this journey of life is having goals and ambitions bigger than my daily routine. I’m finally figuring out the kinds of grad programs I want to apply to. I am finally writing more and more and trying to get into the industry that I’ve always wanted to be in (thanks, Rory Gilmore, you’ve really stuck with me). And I am finally realizing that it’s okay to not have everything figured out. Heck, it’s okay to have NOTHING figured out. And even though I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, I am still changing my mind almost every day.

That one good song from the Cars  movie is true: life is a highway. It’s wild and fast at some times but bumper-to-bumper traffic at others. And often, I miss my exit. Often, I’m at risk for getting a speeding ticket or I want to just keep driving with nowhere to go. And I may not know exactly where my highway is taking me…

But the least I can do is enjoy the ride.

Year-Round Magic: My Favorite Disney Clothing & Accessories

Year-Round Magic: My Favorite Disney Clothing & Accessories

Disney is one of my favorite things, so it’s a no-brainer that I love to incorporate Disney style in my everyday life. Here are a few of my favorite items that help me keep the magic alive—even when I am not in the parks!

Alex & Ani Cinderella Bracelet

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I’m starting off with my favorite souvenir from my recent trip to Walt Disney World: my Alex & Ani bracelet. Before the trip, I had never owned an Alex & Ani before, and I knew that this would be the perfect place to purchase my first one. And what better princess to honor than Cinderella, the symbol of the Magic Kingdom?!

Seeing Cinderella Castle for the first time was one of the most special moments in my life, and eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table was an absolute dream. So Chris and I knew upon seeing this bracelet at World of Disney that it would be the only choice for me.

I love wearing my A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes bracelet on its own or with other gold jewelry. It’s the perfect touch of Disney for everyday wear, and the jingling sound of the charm reminds me of charm bracelets I would often wear as a child. This bracelet is so special because it is a symbol of our first trip to WDW and a reminder to never stop dreaming.

Typo Mickey Mouse Club Tote

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Image via Google Images. 

What an awesome (and CUTE) tote bag! I purchased this from Typo—am I the last one to realize that they have awesome Disney merch?! I love this because it isn’t outrageously Disney. The gold text on the black canvas is tasteful and trendy, and the subtle references to Mickey and Disney are only noticed upon close-up inspection.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Disney bag, but I also love to incorporate Disney into my outfits in subtle ways. This bag is perfect for toting around my work laptop or study supplies, and it’s an awesome carry on for my frequent flights.

Oh Yeah Apparel Main Street Academy Sweatshirt

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Sweatshirt from OYA; Tsum Tsum from Disney Parks; custom ears made by Chris. 

Oh Yeah Apparel is definitely one of my favorite small shops. I have loved them for well over a year, and I love their original Disney clothing items. Christopher purchased this Main Street Academy sweatshirt for me earlier this year, and I have loved it ever since.

Even though the owners of Oh Yeah Apparel are WDW locals, this sweatshirt is a fantastic reference to Disneyland, the first Disney park ever! I always feel as though I am paying homage to Walt and Disneyland, my favorite childhood park (and still my favorite place!). Plus, it’s SO cozy, and it fits me like a glove, so I never feel that I’m swimming in a on of fabric when I wear it.

ShopDisney Minnie Mouse Long Sleeve

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You can never go wrong with the queen herself! Well over a year ago, I bought Chris a Mickey Mouse long sleeve shirt, and since then we were looking for a matching Minnie one for me. We found this cozy number in 2016 while walking around World of Disney after an awesome September day at California Adventure, and we both knew after seeing it that it was meant to be.

This shirt is so fun to style because of its boat neck. I can wear it off the shoulder and layer it with so many other pieces. It’s cozy and loose enough to sleep in, but it’s in good enough condition to still wear out day to day. I love it!

 

Thanks for reading! If you have something you’re passionate about, don’t be afraid to show it through your clothing and accessories. Wearing these Disney pieces brings a smile to my face every day. 🙂

 

 

Life Lately: 3 Things

Life Lately: 3 Things

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 8.13.40 PMHello blog family!

It has been too long since I have taken the time to write a life update on the blog, so I wanted to take the time today to sit down and write my thoughts.

 

 

 

 

1. Grace in 2018 — While I am not one for new year resolutions, I do love the idea of living by a single word or phrase for a period of time in order to better oneself. In fall 2016 my word was gratitude, and I made an effort to write the things I am grateful for every single day, using this blog as a platform. While this was meant to be a 365-day project, I fell short, but I continued to reflect and make an effort to be grateful every day, and I think I succeeded.

I went through a period of time in 2017 when I wasn’t thinking of a particular word to inspire my thoughts or actions (with the emotional rollercoaster of graduating college and moving to a new city). But I wasn’t even thinking of a new word for 2018—it just came to me a few days ago, and it felt right.

Grace. For this season of my life (be it a year or 6 months) I plan to be more gracious toward others. I find that one of my weaknesses is I tend to be very quick to react to things. I tend to be quick to judge a situation or quick to write off someone as being rude. But I want to continue to remind myself to treat others with more grace, more kindness, more love. Because while I cannot control how others treat me, I can control my thoughts and actions toward others. And if that isn’t a magical feeling, I don’t know what is!

2. 6 Months Since Moving — It has officially been just over 6 months since moving from my little beach town to a city in the Bay Area. My oh my, what an adjustment it has been. From learning how to live with my boyfriend’s family to working a full-time job to starting to pay off my student loans, life has presented itself with some definite stressers.

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But it has also shown me so much love and laughter. Chris and I still have our study parties even after graduating, as he works on med school app things and I study for the GRE (again, I know, haha). We are trying (and not succeeding so well) to not go out for milk tea every week, but no matter what we’re having fun. I’m getting to know my coworkers more, and I have even started freelance writing for an awesome woman I met totally by chance. I have been battling homesickness by visiting Ventura as often as I can. And I have been loving living here.

3. Our Travel Plans — Chris and I have finally decided on our travel plans for the year! We’ll be returning to Taiwan, visiting Hawaii with our Friends, and going to France and Disneyland Paris in the fall (this trip is what I am most excited for, because Disney, of course!!). WE ARE SO EXCITED!

Ruifang District, Taiwan Dec. 23-24, 2015
Our first trip to Taiwan together in December 2015!

Taiwan will be amazing because we’ll be spending so much more time in the capitol. Hawaii will be our biggest trip we have ever taken with our friends. And DLP will be our Disney trip of the year—and our first international Disney park, AND my first time in Europe!

There is so much to come this year. And these travel plans are getting me through the boredom of studying and the monotony that working can be. It’s been a weird adjustment away from school and into the full-time workforce! If you have any advice, send it my way.

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If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I’d love for you to comment something about yourself and something you’d like me to write about! I want to really form a community on here this year. Let’s do this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Post-Grad Life: How I Maintain Optimism After College

My Post-Grad Life: How I Maintain Optimism After College

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Life after college can bring a rollercoaster of emotions. And if you’re anything like me, you were completely terrified to graduate. And that’s okay. Here are my tips for maintaining an optimistic attitude even after you leave the happiest place on Earth (yes, I mean college).

1. Apply, apply, apply

Months before I graduated, I aggressively applied for jobs. This may be because I had friends who graduated years prior to me, and I know that they had a hard time finding work. Being the planner and go-getter that I am, I wanted to make sure that I left college with a next step firmly in place. I may not know where I will be five years from now, but I wanted to know where I would be five months from graduation. I stuck to Indeed and LinkedIn for my two online job boards, and I ended up finding my now-job after six months of applications.

I applied to hundreds of jobs before landing this one last April. It wasn’t a walk in the park finding it, but I am so grateful that I started applications in October. It allowed me to get used to the idea of rejection early on.

Even if you don’t have a job by the time you graduate, keep applying. Filling out apps will allow you to always have an end goal in mind: get the job. You could find one sooner than you think!

2. Always have something to look forward to

When Chris and I were planning out Walt Disney World trip, we wanted to pick dates that would be months after we graduated college. This trip is a celebration for us, and we wanted to make sure that as we began working our post-grad jobs, we had something to look forward to. And after we get back from this trip, we plan to pick our next trip ASAP (in our case, it will hopefully be a springtime trip with our college friends!!).

I realize that traveling is not accessible to everyone, but you don’t have to have an expensive trip in mind in order to be looking forward to your future. A weekend brunch date, a new podcast, or even a delicious breakfast every morning can give you the same sense of optimism. Making sure you always have something to look forward to will help you get over the fact that you won’t be returning to your undergrad life.

3. Work toward a goal every day

I am a very goal-oriented individual, and I believe that you should have at least one goal that you are working toward every day. This can be a goal at your job, in your home, within your hobbies, or anything that you can think of that makes your heart beat. It is highly important that you work to achieve something, big or small.

Because I am planning on attending grad school within the next three years, the new goal I will be working toward is studying to retake the GRE. But every day I work toward a goal of booking more meetings at work. Every week I strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Every month I aim to learn something new, whether it is from a book or a podcast.

We learn and grow so much during our undergraduate years. Why can’t we continue to do so post-grad?

 

These are just a few tips that I use to make sure I am optimistic during this weird and emotional time of my life. I still miss college—I just barely graduated!!—but keeping these things in mind really helps me understand how wonderful life can be. Hey, if you’re like me, we’re just getting started.

Taking Life Slowly

Taking Life Slowly

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I have officially been working at my first full-time job for two months. Two months! When I first started, I could hardly imagine what it would feel like to say that I had been working for a couple months. I know that is a silly thing to say, but it’s true: full-time work straight out of college is a swan dive into the unknown. But it’s been grand, to say the least.

There are ups and downs, whirlygigs and flipper-floppers. Some days feel like a monotonous routine of traffic-work-traffic-sleep, while others feel exciting (such as when I book a few meetings for some AEs or I eat at a new restaurant). But today I was reminded of how amazing and blessed it is for me to even have these days at all. How thankful I am to have ups and downs, because they signify that I’m alive.

Today, I told myself I would take life slowly. During shavasana at our weekly Yoga in the Park (I know, it’s amazing that we do this at work now…my job rocks), I focused on being completely present. I set the intention that I would become more present in everything I do, from something as simple as chewing my food and paying attention to how it tastes, to something as complex as truly focusing on my productivity in the office. I have written about intentional living a lot on this blog, but I think living in the present is a big part of that. And I believe wholeheartedly that being 100% present in everything I do really helps me thrive as an individual. I am more productive, happier, and healthier when I practice presence.

So this evening, as Chris was hard at work in the ED, I took myself on a dinner date. I ate at a vegan cafe that I’ve been dying to try but Chris hasn’t been interested in. I brought my book and my headphones. I ordered an avocado roll and dou hua and a latte (and I even spoke to the owner in Chinese!!). I chewed my food. I tasted my dessert. I burnt my tongue on my coffee. And I read. I fell in love again and again with every breath I took because this experience of solitude amid the busyness of my days felt truly magical.

Take a breath. Realize that you’re here. It’s okay if you don’t know why yet, but you’re here. So be present.

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Tea Time & Life Lately

Tea Time & Life Lately

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You can’t tell much from these pictures, but this tea place in San Jose was totally adorable. There were tree stump stools and tables, chalk board menus, and succulents everywhere. Too. cute.

One of our favorite things to do is explore new places to eat. So we decided to get out of the house on Saturday (well actually, I was in a bit of a funky mood and Chris agreed to take me out hehehe) and try a tea place we hadn’t ever heard of: Tea Lyfe.

Settled in Vietnam Town in East San Jose, this place is super cute and definitely a hidden gem, in my opinion. I got the Matcha Sensation, and at 80% sweetness, this was definitely my cup of tea (lol). Chris got the Mango Rose, which wasn’t his taste, unfortunately, but we both think he should stick to what he likes, more often than not. If this wasn’t so out of our way, I’d definitely go back sometime soon (okay it’s really not that far, but I mean who would say no to Share Tea?!).

Life lately has had its ups and downs. I’ve definitely gotten waves of homesickness since moving to the Bay, but keeping myself busy definitely helps a ton. I think just taking time to do new things with Chris helps me recenter myself and feel great. We started volunteering weekly together, and today he went to yoga with me. It made my heart so happy!

I’ve also been looking into grad school more and more lately. I just miss school so much already, and I only graduated two months ago! Learning is just my favorite. I’ve been reading a lot of articles and blog posts lately to feel inspired, and this book I’m reading has also been keeping me from getting into a grub life slump.

That’s all I’ve got for now! Thanks for reading 🙂

On Magic & Love

On Magic & Love

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Our love works because I believe in magic, and you’re open to the idea of it. And that’s enough.

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I have always believed in magic. As a child, I would say prayers to Santa Claus, wish to become a fairy, and dream almost every night of Peter Pan taking me away to Neverland. I would go to bed squeezing the tops of my ears in hopes that they would look elfish, and I sincerely thought that all of my lost things went to the same place.

So when I feel head over heels in love for the first time in my life, you could say it hit me pretty hard. The feeling of loving another person so much that you cannot think of anything that could happen to make that love go away…well, that could only be magic, right?

Magic and love have many things in common, but their biggest tie is this: neither can be explained. If you asked me to explain how much I love Chris, I would probably have to give you a list of things I could compare it to.

It’s like waking up on a Monday and realizing you have the day off from school. 

It’s like going to sleep on a Saturday night knowing you still have one more day of the weekend. 

It’s like walking on the beach in the winter, the chilly wind blowing in your face, cozy in your favorite sweater. 

It’s like not ordering dessert at a restaurant because you know you’re stopping by your favorite cafe after dinner (the one that gives out cake samples and has your favorite hot cocoa). 

I could go on and on, but like magic, love isn’t something you can hold, or even see. It’s a feeling.

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Now when I talk about things like this to Chris, he isn’t much for explanations that can’t be linked to science or reason. He’s more of the “your-brain-releases-chemicals-and-your-attraction-to-someone-else-is-biological-and-blah-blah-blah-hormones-science-brain-stuff” kind of guy. I could go for hours talking about magic, and he wouldn’t necessarily agree with me…but he won’t really disagree, either.

When I start to speak about it—when I tell him how our love works and how I believe he’s magical—he shares how he, too, believes that I was made just for him.

Chris may not believe in magic as much I do. But he’s open to the idea of it. And that’s why our love works.

 

 

Summer in the ‘Lil City

Summer in the ‘Lil City

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My top is from Hollister, my skirt is from Romwe, and my shoes are from Target (I wear them basically every single day hahaha). 

Hey everyone! Long time no blog. It’s been so long since updating this website: I have graduated college, moved to the Bay Area, and begun working in my first full-time job. What the heck?!

I think over the past year I have truly found my style—and I am so excited to finally start updating this blog with more outfit posts! I love dressing in clothes that make me feel confident, and this outfit was perfect for my Saturday summertime lunch with Chris.

We had a day out in Palo Alto at the Stanford Shopping Center, and Chris—being the angel of a boyfriend that he is—snapped a couple photos of my outfit…and told me how to look cute in the pics. 🙂

Life in the Bay is definitely different. It has taken some getting used to! But something I love about it here is that there is always something to do. I have found myself discovering a new place every week, whether it is a little restaurant or a thrift shop. And that keeps life interesting.

I have found that working full-time can be very tiring and monotonous, so going out on the weekend (even if it is just a little outing to lunch in a nearby city, like Chris and I did) helps me to feel good and happy. I love staying home, but I can get very bored on the weekends if I spend all day inside!

That’s all I have for today! Thanks for reading and sticking with me, even after it’s been so long. Let me know your thoughts on what I should post next. You’ll be seeing a WDW update sometime soon.

On Being Humble

On Being Humble

Humility is one of the most important qualities for us to have. Understanding when we are wrong, not being prideful, respecting others—these are all things that we should be aware of and doing on a daily basis. But like a lot of other “we should”s, it is easier said than done.

I will not always be the first to admit when I am wrong, and that is something I am completely aware of. I love being right! Don’t we all? It can be so satisfying sometimes to say “I told you so!” or snicker in our heads about that one question we definitely know the answer to. But admitting when we are wrong is way more important than feeling satisfied when we are right. Even more so, knowing when to be humble is an even greater quality.

Humility does not mean never getting recognized for good work, nor is it equivalent to passivity or meekness. Humility as a personal quality, rather, means refraining from boastfulness, from pride and arrogance. Humility, in my book, means knowing when we are right and when we are wrong, and making the conscious decision to abide by the idea that how we feel about ourselves on the inside—how we treat others)—is far more important than outward pride and boasting about our accomplishments.

At the same time, being humble does not have to mean we never recognize our own good qualities or actions. We can be proud of ourselves without never admitting we are at fault. We can uplift ourselves without bringing others down.