How to Travel as a Recent College Grad

How to Travel as a Recent College Grad


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.


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.


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.


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. 🙂

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

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



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.

5 Ways to De-Stress While Studying

5 Ways to De-Stress While Studying

Hi readers! Today I want to share with you all my top five tips for de-stressing while you are studying. I know that there are so many lists of tips and tricks for de-stressing, but, I want to tell you how you can do it while being productive at the same time.

1. Put away the planner

Okay, I admit, I am a planner junkie. I am addicted to making lists and writing down exactly what I need to do each week and each day. This is the only way I can remember everything I need to do! However, I have noticed that I get way more distracted and stressed when I can see my planner while studying. If my planner is within eyesight, I will without a doubt be in the middle of reading or studying or doing homework when suddenly
I think of something else I need to do and have to write it down. But taking the time to write down these sudden thoughts is a distraction! Instead of staying focused, I was letting myself get off track in order to write down something that could have waited. By keeping my planner tucked away in my backpack and out of sight, I am able to zero in on the task at hand and get it done more efficiently.
2. Disable WiFi, if possible
If you are not doing work that requires the internet, then you should definitely turn the internet off. This is a simple and easy way to unplug and focus. If your messages are linked to your computer or if you are constantly on social media, then disabling WiFi will eliminate those outside distractions, and you will have to think about turning it on before you make the decision to be distracted. If you find yourself wanting to turn the internet on again, think: Is this worth it? Why do I need to take a break right now? Could I get up and stretch instead?
3. Put your phone away
Just do it. I know it is hard, but there is no reason why your phone should be anywhere near you while you are studying. Trust me, this works.

4. Wear a watch




A really easy way to keep track of how long you have been studying is to simply wear a watch. You can use it to time yourself and time your breaks, and it will keep you from looking at your phone or your computer screen when you need to know what time it is. This is just another way to eliminate as many electronics as possible. (And shout out to Krystin from Girl in Betsey for my Daniel Wellington watch! I wear it every day.)
5. Stay hydrated
I drink a lot of coffee, and sometimes I don’t realize that I am putting more coffee into my body than water. As a result, I tend to get headaches, which are a terrible distraction and make me more stressed! I feel like I can’t be productive when my head hurts so bad, and this is something I have been making an effort to control. If you keep a tall glass of water with you at your desk for the duration of your studying, you will find yourself drinking it a lot more. Keeping track of how much water you drink is important, and it will help you be less stressed in the long run. During times of stress, our skin can break out, we can become tired or antsy, and sometimes we snack for no reason. But drinking water and making an effort to put healthy liquids into your body will cause you to feel happier and healthier.
I hope these tips helped! Leave a comment down below of your de-stressing tips.
Inside the Junk Drawer: What It’s Really Like to be The First Person in my Family to go to College

Inside the Junk Drawer: What It’s Really Like to be The First Person in my Family to go to College

I am starting a new series on this blog called “Inside the Junk Drawer,” in which I will explore certain experiences (mainly old works of writing) that I have shut away for a while, and reflect on how I feel now. Let me know what you think! 

I wrote an article with the same title (What It’s Really Like…) almost exactly two years ago, after finishing my first fall quarter at UCSB. I remember listening to the opinions editor of The Bottom Line (where I have worked for almost three years) pitch an article about what it is like to be the first person in your family to attend university. I remember looking around and not seeing any writers raising their hands to write the story. And I remember volunteering to be the one to do it.

I had never written an op-ed in college before, and so I didn’t know what to expect. The editor seemed like she wanted a story with a lot of bite, one that would give the readers the inside scoop about “what it’s really like” to be one of “us,” one of the kids whose parents did not attend college. She seemed really excited to be publishing an article like this, but I wasn’t so sure.

Today, while listening to a podcast about college experiences, I remembered the article I wrote back then. To be honest I don’t know why I forgot about it. I take pride in all of my work, but soon after this piece was published, I shoved it aside, stuck it in my mental junk drawer, and never paid any mind to it again. Sure, I knew my name would always be attached to it, but it wasn’t something that I thought was extraordinary or worthy of recognition. The article, as it still exists today, is a simple story of my experiences and how I felt after my first quarter. No angst, no deep regrets or resentment, just a reflection and an honest opinion. That’s what I intended.

But looking back on these past two, almost three years since beginning school at UCSB, I am wondering if anything has changed. Do I still feel this way? “College is hard but I am doing it for myself and it doesn’t matter what happens or how many other people have their lives figured out because I am trying my best and this is a big deal in my family…” ?

Since writing the article, I have definitely moved forward in my college career. I have realized which friends really are lasting, advanced in my roles at the paper, happened upon love, maintained a stable on campus job, realized what I really want to study…I feel comfortable. I feel happy. I have always craved more and wanted more for myself, but after coming here and learning and growing, I feel good. I feel right.

When I wrote the op-ed two years ago, I thought that is is okay to struggle if I know I am trying my best, and that life is hard but I am living for myself and nobody else. Sure, these are truths that still hold, but I think my outlook is more than that. I have accomplished a sort of self reflection and realized that it is okay to be doing something for other people. And it is okay to not have it together all the time. And sometimes, comparing my personal goals and life’s path to others’ is healthy, if it motivates me to try harder and be a better version of myself. I am going to college for myself, yes. But I am also going to make my family proud, and my future family proud. And at the end of the day, if I am happy with this, if this motivates me, well…then that is exactly how it should be.

… Still reading? Here’s some photos through the years.







Elements of College Finals: Reflection, Desk Accents & Essentials

Elements of College Finals: Reflection, Desk Accents & Essentials


I am officially done with fall quarter of my junior year of college! WOO! Actually, I am just finishing up my last paper, but after that I am free. It feels like this year is flying by, and within the next two weeks my blog will be flooded with travel posts while I am in Taiwan! I am going to try to post every other day while I am there about each place we visit. Fingers crossed that I’m successful.

I suppose I will take this moment to reflect on this quarter. Junior year is a lot harder that I expected it was going to be, let me tell you. Between classes, work,  and the newspaper, I can hardly keep up with all of my responsibilities sometimes. It’s awesome that Chris and I can just sit and chill together, or do homework on weekends without stressing so much. And I am so happy that I can see Sabrina still (I mean, we are mostly studying together when we see each other, but still it’s fun!). My goal next quarter is to work on balancing my priorities more. Sometimes I find myself working on newspaper things more than keeping up with my readings, and that is definitely not good. If there is anything that college teaches you about the real world, it’s time management.

However, despite this, I am surviving finals! I had finals super early this year, which was hard but I made it through. This final paper for a major class of mind is really kicking my butt, though, so here’s hoping I ace it.

Because I know I’m not the only one who has been dealing with finals stressed over these past two weeks, I figured I would share a couple pictures of my current desk! I really like my setup this year. I decorated the wall and left the desk area filled with things that I actively use (with jewelry on the left and textbooks, notebooks & other school supplies on the right. When I took these pictures, I was in the middle of studying for my Chinese 1 final (it was last Saturday, and it wasn’t too bad!).

Below I have listed similar items to the ones in this picture, since I wasn’t able to find exact matches for everything.

Without further ado, here are my desk essentials for finals and everyday college living.

1. Coffee (and more precisely, coffee in a cute mug)

Coffee is a must for me. Even though I can average around 6 or 7 hours of sleep per night (I know, I am a lucky English major), I still love to have my coffee in the morning to give me that extra boost of energy. I drink mine with almond milk and (if I’m not out of it) a bit of agave. It’s super delicious! And I always like drinking it out of a cute mug. My aunt got me this bird one during my freshman year of college, and I have been using it all quarter, probably because it happens to be the perfect size, I think.

I believe she purchased the mug from anthropology, but I have found one that is just as cute at Francesca’s! This one has an owl on it and gives off the same cheery vibe.

2. A cozy blanket
If I am studying for the long haul, I have to be comfortable, and a cozy blanket makes everything better. I love putting it on my desk chair or wrapping myself in it while I am sitting on the couch in my apartment (and drinking my coffee of course *wink wink*). My grandma got this one for me as an early Christmas present and believe me, it has kept me warm all through the chilly finals season. I am not sure where she got it, but below is a cute and similar one from Target.

3. A desk bin

Okay, this one seems like a no-brainer, but mine is so cute and effective desk storage is super important. I really like storing my books and notebooks upright. I find that they are much easier to find and keep track of than storing them stacked in a drawer, and bookcases are just not space efficient in college. I got two floral bins from Target before my freshman year of college and I have used them ever since. One stores makeup in my closet, and the other I keep on my desk! I found a similar one below, since they no longer make the one with this design.


4. A good playlist

So this is kind of an extra one, but I figured I would throw it in just for fun! I typically use 8tracks when I am studying from other people’s playlists (no ads? wahoo!), but I made this one and I keep adding songs to it as I see fit.

If you are currently in college or are a graduate, please let me know what your desk essentials are, and what helps keep you on track for studying. I am always in need for tips and tricks, and I love finding new things to make my desk cute (hehe). I will also link my “How to Stay Organized as a College Student” article here, if you want to check out my tips.

Happy studying and happy holidays, to those who celebrate!



Elements of College Finals: Fall 2015

Elements of College Finals: Fall 2015

As finals are approaching (actually, my first one is tomorrow), studying is in full force, especially after a self-induced food coma of Thanksgiving. I have been trying to balance school, work, writing and editing, all the while trying to find time to relax (which isn’t so hard when my boyfriend and I love staying in and eating while watching cartoons). I figured I would post a few of my study essentials — or rather, the things I noticed I love having while studying for finals during this chilly fall season.

I love my Pentel Click 0.5 mechanical pencil. It has a twist-top eraser, which is perfect since I tend to write so fast and misspell words in the process. You can catch a glimpse of my grammar practice…


I bought a wireless mouse at Best Buy on Saturday, when their Black Friday sale was still going on. it is purple and I love it! I will never go back to using my trackpad again. Chris convinced me to buy it, just like he is trying to convince me to play Maple Story…coincidence? Perhaps.
The background on my computer is actually a Google Chrome plugin called Momentum! I found it while perusing studyblrs and I have been using it for almost a year now. It is super motivational and features a new, beautiful picture each day.


I also bought some new headphones at Best Buy! These are teal Insignia headphones. Pretty good sound quality for only $7.99! (Please excuse my worn-out laptop sticker — it’s been a long quarter.)


Featuring my bitten nails and a gray F21 sweater that I have worn too many times to count. I will probably post about it soon so you can see the lace detail at the bottom. The coffee is from Kol’s Cafe in Isla Vista. Super delicious lattes and breakfast. Chris and I love it there!

Well, this was quite a short post, but I wanted to post a few pictures of my study-filled, lazy yet productive Sunday! I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving, and if you’re in college too, good luck on finals!



How to Stay Organized as a College Student

How to Stay Organized as a College Student


As an incoming junior at a university, I have experienced the perks of being organized…and the disastrous outcomes of being unorganized. One of the reasons why I decided to start this blog was that I wanted a free space where I could share my experiences in college, and I believe that organization tips are a great place to start. So, let’s jump right in, shall we? Here are my helpful tips and tricks for becoming (and staying) an organized student.

1. Get a weekly planner.

Purchasing a planner is the first step to becoming organized. These can be found just about any place that sells stationary. I bought mine at my campus bookstore, but I have previously found Target to be my favorite place to buy them. Using a planner is the best way to get your entire life in order because of the numerous ways to utilize it. I like to think of my planner as having three main categories:

  • Academics:  You can use your planner to organize your academic life. I have found that the most efficient way to do this is by writing down every assignment, due date, and test date upon receiving your syllabus at the beginning of each quarter/semester/class term.  You can also use the monthly section of your planner to mark down the days and times of each of your professors’ and TAs’ office hours. Even if you do not think you will ever attend, trust me: taking note of all the information from each syllabus and transferring it into your planner will cause you to stare at it pretty much every time you open your planner.
  • Extracurriculars: Another way to use your planner is to mark down all of your extracurricular clubs, organizations, and activities in the monthly sections. As a college student, one of the main ways you will meet people is by getting involved on your campus. Whether it is by attending sports games, joining a sorority or fraternity, or becoming a member of a major-specific organization, there are plenty of ways to make new friends and keep yourself busy (ahem ahem procrastination much?). So, while you take the time to join these clubs, you are going to need a place to write down all of the dates of your many events and clubs, and your planner is the perfect spot!
  • Social: You can also utilize your planner by marking down all of your social plans. Whether it is a weekend date, a friend’s party, or a girls’ night in, it is definitely important to write down all of your social plans in order to 1) make sure you don’t schedule two things at once and 2) so you can make sure to schedule some studying in between your social engagements. Trust me, this will make balancing your social life with your academic life a whole lot easier.

I cannot tell you how much this helps. Every time finals week rolls around, my best friend Sabrina spends half an hour creating her schedule for the week. This doesn’t work for everyone, obviously, but when I jumped on the bandwagon and decided to follow her lead, I totally understood how it much it helps. Creating a list of when you will study certain subjects, as well as including 15 minute breaks every hour, will help you stick to what you plan on studying and get through each evening without feeling like you didn’t get anything done.

3. Keep your work space as clean as possible.

Keeping a neat work space is one of the most effective ways to become an efficient student. While having a mattress topper is the number one way to achieve a good night’s rest in your dorm room, keeping your desk as clean and organized as possible is the best way to achieve effective studying. Sometimes it seems like it takes an eternity to clean while it takes 30 seconds to make a space dirty, but by making sure your desk is as clean as possible, you will feel more organized and, in turn, you will feel more motivated to study. Your desk is the space you should be utilizing the most in your dorm room, so make the most of your small space by creating an organized work space!

Whether you are an incoming college freshman or a soon-to-be senior, I hope these tips are helpful for you! Let me know if you would like me to post a more in-depth guide for how I use my planner and plan out each week, and stay tuned for more blog updates and back-to-school posts!