When you are given permission by society to travel by yourself as a woman

travel-alone-womanI’m a coward.

I’ve known this for a long time. It’s hard to get out of cowardly habits quite frankly. I was definitely one of those people who cared incredibly too much what other people thought.

But let me first tell you about my mom, the one person who inspires me.

She is fearless. She may say otherwise, but to me, she is the bravest person in the world.

It is bravery to travel and live abroad with two children by yourself not once, but twice. I could not have possibly done it.

That being said, growing up I was always told to be careful because it was dangerous for a woman to be told to travel alone. There was an increase in human trafficking, reports of rape and murder, etc…

This was drilled into my head as a young age. My father was definitely nervous one about it all. I’m sure we all have had this experience.

I may have been hard-headed about a lot of things, but I took this seriously. I knew that this happened. I wasn’t that stupid of a kid not to listen.

All of a sudden, blog posts, youtube videos, tweets…have all been talking about traveling alone. This is not just getting on a plane by yourself to meet others at the destination. This is to travel by yourself. Sightsee by yourself. Get a hotel room by yourself.

Now you must understand, I didn’t get it. For one thing, money. But another thing: isn’t that sort of dangerous? I thought.

But then, I just think about my mom traveling across the world to a foreign country with two young kids. I’ve had an example, among others, of a woman being bold enough to have an adventure despite the naysayers. What’s different now?

Validation. The world is finally given some indication that it is actually okay to travel and explore on your own…and that average people can do it!

I shouldn’t have needed it. Like I said, I’m a bit of a coward. But I’m glad there are other fabulous women like my mother who travel to follow in their footsteps.

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Prepare to Live Abroad (For the Disorganized)

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So, I’m packing for my big move to Japan that will happen in a few months (Whoop Whoop!). So, much to do in so little time!

Pretty soon, I’ll start a career overseas. I will be the renaissance, carefree black magical curly- haired woman I have imagined myself to be ever since I was a young girl. (Well, not the curly-haired part. We may talk later about my once-upon-a-time inferiority complex of my now loved curls to the once adored idea of having straight Euro-centric hairstyles.)

Anyway.

Besides the stress for the most obvious preparation checkpoints (visa documentation, plane ticket, brush up on my language skills), there is a much deeper concern here.

I’m not a planner.

This, you may say, is no big deal. Just get a planner.

As a soon-to-be instructor of the English language to those who are learning the language as a secondary language, I need to get my ish together.

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Well, this is my journey I have been steadily attempting to wrestle with for the past several years, and there are some things I a slowly am figuring out for myself.

Let me share.

Desk Calendars/ White Boards

Now, I hear all of the praise of the use of a daily planner. All the time, my mother tells me to write things down to remind me of dates and times that have been scheduled.

But who will remind me to look at my planner? No one will be there to remind me months from now when I am living in a foreign country on my own.

More recently, I realized that I needed visual reminders. Therefore, I have a couple of wall calendars on the wall above my bed. That way, I don’t have to search to look at any scheduled appointments. Everything would be right in my face. No excuses.

A white board is great for many things. But for me, I decided to buy two small boards from the dollar store. With one, I create a daily to-do list. This helps me organize my thoughts so that I am not overwhelmed.

I also created a done-list with the other. Many times I am not done with all of the tasks that I have set for myself for the day. Seeing the done list reminds me of my productivity and not to be so hard on myself.

Down-sizing

I realized that I cannot own too many things. Honestly, I do not have a knack for organizing and decorating. I have too many things in my possession for no reason, and at times, I cannot figure out a way to have some organization that is functional.

My solution? Give everything away.

I can’t say I’m going the minimalist route (I have nurtured an alarming obsession with buying books). Many things may have to stay in storage during my time abroad (i.e. book collection).

As far as moving abroad, it’s best to pack the necessities. The general rule: if it’s something that can be bought at your destination and/or it is not a thing of high importance, don’t bring it.

I’m pretty sure there are more things to share with my fellow disorganized wanderers.

 

4 Semi-Free things to do in Orlando: a City of the Sunshine State!

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So you guys, I’ve been doing a bit of traveling, including visiting family down in the sunny, incredibly humid, and surprisingly rainy state of Florida.

 

I know this isn’t exactly glaringly novel information. But it is new to me. I never traveled to Florida before.

 

This is the land of alligators, popular beaches, and a wealth of amusement parks. As you can see, there is plenty to do in this state. If you decide to vacation here, there is definitely a list of options. Especially in Orlando.

 

What can you do that’s free? That’s the million dollar question ( no pun intended).

 

If you come from a walkable city like me, you may understand my pain. In Cleveland, there may not be attractions that could live up to Orlando’s universal studios, but people who live there, have found ways to beat around the usage of a dollar.

1) Shadow Bay Park

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A sight during a walk on a nature trail.

This is just a community park located in Florida that the locals go to. There are nature trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a basketball court. That park was one of my favorite places to travel to. And it didn’t cost a dime.

2) Universal CityWalk

Now we all know about the theme parks that are spread about the city.  From DisneyWorld to the new water park that is in construction, all are a lot of fun and a lot of money. But did you know you can enjoy some of the perks without having to be in any of those parks?

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A hub of lights, sound, and activity!

 

Well you could come to this hotspot! This is a hub of entertainment, eateries, and (seemingly) endless shopping options. Parking is $20.00 but is free for residents after 6pm. 

3) St. Petersburg Beach

Now, if you love the beach, then you are a friend of my own heart. I love the beach!  This is a popular spot that sits outside of Tampa. Resorts have this area covered to give their guests a great view and great time near the water.

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 4)  Black Hammock Adventures

On Lake Jesup, there is a free live alligator and bird exhibits. Watch trainers feed the 12-foot (3.6-meter), 650-pound (295-kilogram) resident gator Hammy on Sunday afternoons. At the restaurant, listen to free live music every Friday and Saturday night. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this. Even though I’m not a huge fan of reptiles, I still think that would have been an interesting experience.

 

Even though all of these options are not entirely free, they will help prevent the burn in your pocketbook from getting any deeper. Orlando is definitely an expensive play to have fun in.

 

Rejection Makes Success

Traveling the world is something that many people dream, and in many cases leave as only as a pipe dream. Like many other fantastical goals, this dream is locked in their heads like a forbidden fantasy, with excuses of w

Money. Family. Careers. Responsibility.

I’m young and broke. I graduated with my undergraduate degree a year and a half ago, and I feel no richer than I was in college (Loan payments. Ugh.). Responsibilities are all I know.

But recently, one of my deepest desires is now an opportunity for me. (Travel) This only happened after the hurdle that I struggled against was pulverized. (Fear)

I feared that I was not good enough. I feared that I didn’t deserve to travel abroad because of the many rejections I received.

 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return.” ~ Galatians 6:7

Oh no. She’s going to start preaching….

No.  The meaning of this is that God will provide the consequences for whatever work man has invested, whether good or bad. Believer or not, results are shown with hard work.

After pushing my fear aside, I never stopped searching for opportunities. Then, one popped up.

Persistence is key.

I now think rejection is a good thing. It toughens you up. Plus, there is that proud feeling you get when you finally succeed.

I’m terrible at Communication and I’m paying the Price.

I like people. I really do. But that doesn’t mean that I have much of an easy time starting, and nurturing relationships- well the starting part.

You see, I’m an awkward human being, which seems like a redundant statement considering how many people claim “awkwardness” or any level of “weirdness.” Which I don’t think at all. I’m perfectly  normal no matter what anyone says.

But when I first meet people and for some time after, it takes me a while to be comfortable. I’m ‘quiet’ and ‘nice’; the complete opposite of what my close friends tell me. Except the nice part. Maybe.

Getting to the point: I fail to communicate.

Years ago- fifteen years to be exact- my sister and I moved internationally for the first time to Osaka, Japan. The second time, when I was ten, we moved to Okinawa Japan so that my mother could teach English. Homesick, of course, but we made friends, visited places- had a life.

Now, we never completed a full year for family reasons, but to make a long story short, we moved back to the states only after eight months. Complete severance of communication from the friends we had made there either time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: That’s very rude to not stay in contact with people I called my friends. Basically pushed them to the back-burner.

Imagine my surprise when my younger sister was able to connect with an old Japanese classmate/friend on Facebook. My sister, the self-initiator.

There were many different things that I felt when this development occurred: surprise, excitement, nervousness, guilt. But there is a few things I want to clear up.

  1. As my younger sister and I have gotten older, she has been the self-initiator between the two of us. I’m learning.
  2. Neither of us had consistently studied Japanese. Consequently, I felt embarrassed that a few of our childhood friends’ English was much better than my Japanese. Consistency and persistence is key apparently.
  3. I’ve never been that great at keeping up with communication.