First Times: Hostel

Hey I’m back! Also, I started writing this back in May and never posted it!

I recently took a short little trip to Philadelphia with my best friend (shout out to Emily) and chose to stay in a hostel to save money, but it ended up being so much more than just a budget friendly option! Every time I talk about my trip to Philly with someone I mention how awesome staying in the hostel was, so I decided I should just write a blog about it.

I think hostels have a bad reputation amongst Americans. They find them “scary.” There’s the horror movie (which I’ve never seen so I can’t comment on) and then there’s the factor of sharing a room with strangers. So I’m American, why did I choose a hostel aside from it being cheap? I watch a lot of travel vlogs where people stay in hostels and have an amazing time! Those vlogs made me want to experience hostel life myself, and I was definitely not disappointed.

The hostel Emily and I stayed in offered a variety of different options for accommodations including separate dorms for males and females, as well as coed, in a variety of sizes, 6-bed, 10-bed, and 18-bed. They also offered private and semi-private rooms. Ultimately we chose the 6-bed female dorm. When we arrived on Monday night we were the first to move in to the room and were hopeful that we might have it to ourselves. Ultimately, our room did fill up that night, but I couldn’t be happier that it did! We instantly got along with two of the other four girls in our room, Australian Izzy and British Izzy! The two of them stayed in Philly for the same amount of time as Emily and I did, so we were able to share our days’ experiences with each other. We recommended activities and locations to them and vise versa. (I also made friends with a Korean girl named Moon who moved into our room after Emily left. More on that later.)

In addition to making friends with roommates, there are always opportunities to meet other people in the hostel. There were couches, a pool table, instruments to play, a full kitchen, and even a movie room. Since our days were so packed with activities, Emily and I didn’t spend much time in the communal hostel areas, but had we taken a more relaxed vacation it would’ve been a nice way to chill and meet other people. The hostel also offered a free group activity every night. Our first night in Philly, we went on a ghost tour of the city. We were probably the only two Americans on the tour that night which I found to be really fun! The next two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday, the hostel hosted a movie night and a spaghetti dinner. (Emily and I missed these activities due to our personal plans so I can’t comment on them.)

Thursday night the hostel took guests on a pub crawl. I hesitated on whether or not to go since Emily left Thursday afternoon and I was alone. Immediately after Emily left, I took a quick nap in the room. (We walked a lot and I was exhausted.) When I woke up from my nap, Moon was moving into the room in Emily’s place. After talking about our trips and realizing we would both be on our own for dinner, Moon and I decided to eat together that night. We got to know each other over the meal and decided to go on the hostel pub crawl together. I’m so glad we did, because I met some more amazing people! Two Americans: Dan and Chris, one Swedish guy: Deni, a French girl: Morgaine, and three British guys: Dominic, Iain, and Nash. What I’m trying to say by listing all of my new friends I made in Philadelphia is that hostels are an amazing place to meet people from all over the world!

Okay, so they’re a great place to meet new people, but are they safe and clean? In my experience, extremely! (I have only stayed in one hostel, but it was exceptional!) Upon check-in we received key-cards similar to those that get you into college dorms. The key-card was used to get into the stairwell, our room, and the bathroom. It also opened the hostel entrance late at night. Only guests and employees were able to enter these areas of the hostel. I felt incredibly safe! They also provided lockers in the rooms to keep your belongings in. I ended up not even using the locker because I kept my valuables with me at all times, but none of my things were touched by any of the others girls at any time. As far as cleanliness, the bathrooms and showers felt much more sanitary than those in my college dorm. We were also provided with clean linens upon check-in to make our bed with and turned them in to be washed when we checked out. All in all, the hostel felt very clean and safe!

I could go on and on about why you should consider staying in a hostel on your travels! I actually preferred it to staying in a hotel room and will stay hostels every time I travel from now on. Not only is it much cheaper, it’s so much more fun! If you’re a single twenty-something, I HIGHLY recommend it! (You know, just in case you hadn’t figured that out yet.) My ONE negative is that it can be noisy at night with people staying up late, but I live next door to a frat house so I wasn’t phased by it. They also provide ear plugs at the front desk if that’s a concern for you.

If you’re travelling to Philly, do yourself a favor and book a room and Apple Hostels. Here’s the website:
http://applehostels.com/

(This blog was NOT sponsored.)

 

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Unsent Letters

Hey friends! I know I haven’t blogged in a while, and I apologize! I’ve actually been writing other things including an extremely non creative fictional story. But hey, its something I enjoy doing so I’m gonna keep writing it! Maybe one day I’ll share some of it here, maybe not. I also recently wrote a long letter to someone that I don’t actually intend on sending. That’s what I’m here to talk about.

A little over a year ago I was encouraged by a friend to write a letter to someone with whom I’d had a falling out. I’d grown resentful of this person for causing another friendship of mine to falter. So I took the advice. I wrote a letter that I would never ever actually send. I was feeling extreme anger and said some incredibly hurtful things that I would never in a million years actually say to anyone, even my worst enemy! But the thing is, it really helped. I knew I was feeling angry and hurt, but until I wrote that letter I couldn’t pinpoint why. After writing it, I knew exactly what my feelings were, and I’d processed them in a safe way. It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.

A year later (a few weeks ago) I was dealing with some different feelings. The situation and person could not have been more different from one another. I’m not going to get into too many details, but I thought to myself, “maybe I should write a letter.” So that’s what I did. I wrote a letter. This time the letter was much friendlier. I talked about all of the good times we shared and even smiled while I wrote it, a far cry from the previous letter. In some ways, it still hurt me to write it. It felt like I was talking directly to the person I was writing to and it truly sucked, but in the end I again felt a weight lifter off my shoulders.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m encouraging you to do the same. If there’s anyone in your life that you have a lot to say to but you can bring yourself to admit it to their face yet, write them a letter that you don’t actually send. Make sure you use pen and paper or Word, not email. That could end up bad! I’m telling you that it works, especially when you just need to externally process! If I’m being honest, I could easily publish a novel of all the unsent letters I should’ve written by now! It doesn’t have a to be a long letter; it could be just one paragraph, but if you feel like you just can’t get something out of your brain, write a letter!

I hope this was all coherent! I’m not proofreading tonight. I’ll write a better blog in the future, but for now I’m gonna go write another letter because I just convinced myself that I need to!

When the Timing Just Isn’t Right…….Ever.

First of all, hey all! I got a new computer so I’m able to blog again! =)

I’ve been thinking a lot about timing recently. Not too long ago I posted a Facebook status that prompted my friends to like it and in return I’d answer a few questions about them. The questions were as follows:
“How did we meet?”
“What was my first impression of you?”
“What do I like about you?”
and finally, “What is my favourite memory of you?”
It got me really thinking about the past. About how some relationships, both platonic and romantic, would have been had the timing just been different. Right. Questions came to my mind like, “what if I hadn’t moved?” and “what if I hadn’t listened to what that particular friend told me?” These questions brought up this idea that if the timing had just been right, everything would have worked out.

I was originally planning to tell a few tales of relationships that could have been very different had the timing been “right,” but as I tried to construct my sentences, I was having a hard time making certain people unidentifiable, and since I share this blog on Facebook, there is a chance that they could read about themselves, and I’m just not ready for that. (I know I said I started this blog so I could openly talk about whatever I want, but that’s just it. I don’t want to share certain feelings right now. Not publically at least.) Let’s just say that there were many instances, in each case, that had I thought the timing was right, I would have said or done something different. For example, at one point I was potentially going to move in with a friend who disapproved of the guy I was interested in, so I stopped talking to him. I didn’t want to be in a relationship with someone who my roommate didn’t like because it could lead to an awkward situation. So I “sisters before misters” that mister because the timing just wasn’t right. The kicker? I didn’t even end up living with her! My point? I let go of something I wanted because it was “bad timing.” (Hey look! I shared a part of one of the stories I was originally going to tell! Go me!)

So when is the timing right? To tell you the truth, I have no idea! You’re asking the wrong girl! But honestly, I don’t really think anyone knows. In movies we always see that perfect moment happen. Whether its landing a dream job or finally getting together with a crush, fictional characters seem to always find the right timing, and it makes us expect the same. We all expect everything to feel right, but to be honest, some of the best things that have ever happened to me didn’t feel “right” at the time! So why do I still try to wait for things to feel right? That’s an excellent question that I don’t have the answer to!

I’m having trouble coming up with a conclusion here, so I’m just going to say don’t try to wait for the right timing. Don’t give up on something you want because the timing just isn’t right. Its never going to feel like the “right time.” Go for it! Whatever it is, go for it! (This blog was kind of a letter of sorts to myself, sorry. But y’all probably needed to hear it too!)

 

Pink vs. Blue: Which Restroom Should I Use?

Recently there’s been a lot of controversy as to which restroom trans people should use. There are really only two sides to this argument. One being that people should use the restroom of the gender they were anatomically born as; the other being that they should use the restroom of the gender that they identify as. I’m on the third side of this argument. Yes, I meant to say third. Let me explain why.

In my opinion, there’s really no sense in having separate restrooms for males and females. With the exception of urinals in the men’s room, when you walk into a public restroom you don’t see people taking a leak out in the open. Each toilet is in its own private stall with a locking door. So why in the world do we need our own gender specific bathrooms? I’ve come up with a couple of reasons I can think of.

  1. Men don’t want to wait for women- I get it. There’s often a line for the women’s room, and men don’t have this problem. There have been many times when I’ve felt the urge to just use the men’s room so that I didn’t have to wait in a line, and I have no reservations using the men’s room if they’re the single bathrooms like what you often find at gas stations. (Single bathrooms being gender specific is just ridiculous anyway!)
    Solution: There could be urinal stalls. Women can’t use urinals anyway, so the men are set if they just have to pee, but really they could just have some patience.
  2. Sexual predators- It seems like a lot of people think that all men turn into sexual predators when they walk into a woman’s restroom. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but apparently it’s a real concern of some people.
    Solution: A solution is not needed. The idea that this would be an issue is absurd! Do these people not realize that sexual predators exist outside of public restrooms? Do they not realize that this could happen without the mixing of genders?
  3. Women want their privacy- We all know that women go to the bathroom in groups. If you didn’t know, it’s often to gossip about men. If there are men and women in the same bathroom, us women won’t be able to gossip. Another way that women, and probably men too, like privacy is that we don’t like to take a dump with the other gender, or really anyone, around.
    Solution: Get over it!

What I’m really saying here is that if we eliminate gender specific restrooms, which serve no purpose other than segregation, then we eliminate the controversy over which bathroom trans people should use. Yes, I know it won’t happen overnight, but new establishments could, and should, adopt the idea of a co-ed restroom situation. Sure it’ll also create controversy at first, but eventually people will get over it and it’ll be the norm!

Side note: If you’re curious about my actual stance, I believe that people should use the restroom of the gender that they identify as.

It’s a Small World After All

I just wanted to make a quick post to talk about how amazed I am by this blog so far! I started this blog on February 16, 2016 purely because I wanted to openly talk about things. I tried to keep a schedule of Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, with Saturday being a day to share recipes, but lately I’ve had a lack of inspiration. I could talk more about my lack of inspiration, but that’s not my point today. My point today is that it’s a small world after all. Now you probably have the song stuck in your head. You’re welcome!

Since I made my first blog post just two months and three days ago, I’ve gained eight followers. Eight followers isn’t a lot, but it is eight more than I thought I’d have! What’s more amazing than that is how far my thoughts and recipes have reached in such a short amount of time! WordPress does this cool thing where they track where your views come from, and as a lover of all things geography and maps, I absolutely love it! So I decided to write a list of all of the countries my readers have been from in the past sixty-three days. I have reached THIRTEEN countries on FIVE continents! I am seriously amazed! And just for fun, here’s a list of those countries:
1. United States- I mean, duh. It’s where I’m from after all.
2. Canada- Also no surprise. As a great man I met in Louisville, KY once said, “[Canada] isn’t even another country. It’s like a suburb.” And I have Canadian friends.
3. United Kingdom- I know people who live there. They speak English.
4. Australia- Also English-speaking. Makes sense.
5. New Zealand- I know one Kiwi. Jo, did you read my blog?!
6. Germany- Yep. I’ve got German friends. I also used to live there.
7. Denmark- Okay, so I know some Danes too.
8. Netherlands- I mean, we had a Dutch foreign exchange student in high school…
9. Poland- It’s in Europe. That’s not too crazy.
10. Indonesia- I know people of Indonesian decent. Does that count?
11. Russia- I feel like this should surprise me more than it does.
12. Colombia- What up South America?!
13. Curacao- I don’t even know where you are! =/

And because I like maps:
countries

The internet is a crazy place! When I was born twenty-six years ago, no one could probably have imagined that one day people across the world would be able to read what I wrote sitting in my house in Missouri. It’s amazing to think that I can easily reach people worldwide! Next goal: have someone in Africa read my blog!

My Greyhound Experience

A couple of weeks ago, I rode the Greyhound bus for the very first time. I’ve been on numerous planes, a few trains, and multiple different subway systems in my life, but the Greyhound was a new experience for me. Wanting to be prepared on what to expect, I perused the web reading blogs about others’ experiences riding the bus. Many people talked about how since the bus is relatively cheap compared to other transportation, the passengers can be some interesting people. They also mentioned the poor quality of bus stations, especially the bathrooms. Naturally, all of these things made me nervous about travelling alone, especially as a female, on the Greyhound, but I have to say, my experience was not all that bad.

The most uncomfortable part for me was waiting at the bus stations in between legs. Throughout my trip, I spent time at three very different stations. I would use the word station loosely to describe the stop in Joplin, MO. It’s really just a desk inside of a gas station on the outskirts of town. The waiting area is a like one of the little sheds you buy at Lowe’s with some extremely uncomfortable seats inside, along with a couple of old video games to waste your money on. Although the bathroom inside the gas station was the nicest of the three, this was my least favourite station due to not having any staff inside of the waiting area. It was quite uncomfortable. The second station I waited in was Kansas City, MO. This was an actual station, and although it’s in a rough part of town, I was the most comfortable waiting there. The station was quite busy despite it being after midnight when I arrived, making it somehow seem safer. The bathrooms weren’t spectacular, but were no worse than your typical public restroom. My final station was in Omaha, NE. When I arrived, it was dark out, and I did notice that it was also in a not so nice area, but I didn’t notice anything else until a few days later when I was leaving. The station itself wasn’t terrible, just very clearly an old building that felt dirty, especially the bathroom. Overall I’d say that yes, Greyhound stations are not the nicest of places, but all together not horrible.

Before I began my trip, I was most worried about the people. I read a lot about how a lot of drug addicts and ex-convicts use Greyhound, and was nervous to travel alone around these types of people. When I was waiting in Joplin, I did end up meeting an ex-convict who was arrested for drug possession along with two other former drug addicts and a truck driver. The truck driver was a young respectable looking man and had he not been there, I may have been really uncomfortable. I was already uneasy being the only female in the station with these four men even though two of them mentioned that finding faith in Jesus Christ helped them overcome addiction. It was actually really cool to hear the witness of these two men though. Eventually another lady showed up which helped me relax. I witnessed extreme generosity from this woman. One of the men didn’t have much, so she gave him here hoodie to keep. I also met a couple of people while boarding my bus from Kansas City to Omaha. One was a man from Texas who was on his way to visit his son in Omaha. The other was a guy about my age moving to Omaha from Atlanta for a fresh start. He was really nice, and even offered to share his snacks that his mama packed for him. My point here is that no matter the background of people, they’re just there to travel too.

Was my experience taking the bus bad? No. Am I glad I experienced bus travel? Of course! Would I choose to travel by Greyhound alone again? Probably not. With another person? Possibly. Do I recommend it? If you can’t afford a plane and the train doesn’t go where you need to go, it is a viable form of transportation as long as you’re cautious of your surroundings and open to meeting interesting people! If its more than a day’s trip, it might be worth making a vacation of it. Take a day or two in the cities where you’ll switch buses the explore if you can swing it. It could end up being like a road trip where you don’t have to drive if you take someone with you!

The Words of My 18 Year Old Self

Call me crazy, but I actually kept the essays I wrote my senior year of high school. I think at some point a teacher pointed out that they might come in useful in college. That didn’t happen, but I did get an idea last week when I didn’t have a planned blog. This week I found myself not knowing what I’d blog about, so now those essays are going to come in handy on this blog. If you read my blog every week, you’ve probably gotten a sense of my writing style, if I have one, so I thought it’d be cool to share something I wrote eight years ago. (I also can’t believe I was a senior in high school EIGHT years ago!) This particular excerpt is from an essay I wrote about a book we read in my composition and rhetoric class. (I’m pretty sure that I didn’t read the whole book and wrote this the night before it was due. You’ll notice how I barely talk about the book at all, though this isn’t the whole essay. Yay procrastination!) According to my works cited page, the book was called Maiden Voyage and was written by Tania Aebi. The only thing I actually remember about the book is that the author sailed around the world solo. So without further ado, here’s some words I wrote as a high school senior! (Hopefully this isn’t too embarrassing.)

(The first quote is from near the end of the book.)
We often take what we have at the moment for granted. “I could have walked faster than Varuna was sailing and I felt like jumping off the boat and running over the water to land.” Although when in context this quote does not have much meaning, it does make for a good analogy. All through our lives we are looking forward to the next step, not enjoying what we have right now. All through high school we look forward to college; we want to jump off the boat and run towards the land, but now as we get ready to graduate in a few weeks we realize that that land is closer than we want it to be. I have looked forward to graduating and going to college all through high school. Up until a few weeks ago, I have been extremely excited for graduation, but when I went to the post office the other day to mail off my graduation announcements, I realized how close I am to leaving high school behind forever. Throughout this year I have become closer to a lot of friends, some people I didn’t even know before this year, or even November, (not sure why I felt to add the November part…) and I am wishing that we would have become closer long ago. I feel like I haven’t had enough time to get to know them as well as I should. I have also started to get along better with people that I have never got along very well with in the past. I sometimes wish that I could start my high school journey over again in the middle of the ocean, my boat far away from the land, but I will always regret something and feel the same way when I get to this point, no matter how man time I get to start over. I can’t start my high school journey over again though. It is about time for me to jump off of my boat onto the land and start a new journey, a new chapter in my life. After I came to this realization, I started to make the most of the time I have left in high school and appreciate everything that I currently have. Leaving behind my life that I have known for four years will be incredibly difficult, especially feeling like I haven’t had enough time here. It will be hard for me to start my new journey. For most of us our journeys will most likely be much easier than Tania’s. Going to college or starting a career seems to me to be much less challenging than sailing around the world alone. Starting our new journeys will be hard for all of us, but no matter how much we might want to, we can’t stay right where we are forever.

There you have it folks! This paper is dated May 1, 2008 and I graduated on the 17th that same month, so it was pretty timely. I used a lot of really long sentences, and I still do, but the idea of my final statement remains true. Don’t be afraid of what’s to come! Embrace the future! When I wrote this, I had no idea what my future had in store. All I knew is that I was going to Missouri State University. I never could have imagined all of the crazy experiences I’d have or all of the amazing people I’d meet!

And just to add a photo somewhat relevant to the blog, here I am during my senior year of high school (I had to return that hoodie, but I really wish I still had it!):
ice skating