Updates and Future Adventures

I want to keep this blog active, but sadly I have had few travel adventures lately. Well, as of last week I have two big trips planned for this summer and I finally have something to look forward to (and something to blog about).

Los Angeles / Disneyland

In July I fly out to LA for a week to see my boyfriend, Matt. We definitely will be spending two days in Disneyland, but I still have a good three days in LA to figure out. I would like some culture and history, but I am not sure that LA is really the place for being cultured. I’m currently thinking about checking out the tar pits and a studio tour of some kind. I also want to spend a good amount of my time at the beach. My trip will probably just consist of a lot of people watching and overall will be pretty laid back. This is the first trip I have ever planned on my own though, so I am pretty excited about that. I am also very open to ideas of things to do in LA, so feel free to give me some suggestions.

Romania/ Hungary

I keep forgetting that this is actually happening but I’m going on a service trip to Romania in August. I’m a bit skeptical of some volunteer groups that bring people in to do work, but I did some research on the organization running on the program and it seems very positive. I also had two great experiences with my service trips to South Dakota and El Salvador, so I have high hopes for this one as well. I’m super excited to immerse myself in the culture and meet people in a new part of the world. We fly into Budapest, Hungary and then drive for six hours to our location in Romania. We will be in Transylvania, which looks absolutely beautiful.

Maine

I did get to have a little weekend trip to Maine last month to visit my grandparents and we were lucky enough to stumble upon a moose and some gorgeous scenery. Here are a few photos:

She was extremely docile and just stood there and watched us for awhile. It was amazing how close she was.

She was extremely docile and just stood there and watched us for awhile. It was amazing how close she was.

To give you some perspective, this picture was taken in May and there was still ice and snow everywhere.

To give you some perspective, this picture was taken in May and there was still ice and snow everywhere.

My Flight Attendant Interview : An Experience (Almost) Obtaining My Dream Job

I said in “Where is Your Next Adventure?” that I had an opportunity to interview for a job that would give me the chance to travel the world. This Friday I interviewed for a flight attendant position at a major airline. Well, I will start this out by saying that I sadly did not get the job. However, it was an amazing experience that I learned a lot from. My interview also changed what I want from a career and helped me orient my goals for the future.

I am going to refrain from giving the name of the company. If you really must know, it is not that hard to figure it out with a little bit of research. To the best of my knowledge, most flight attendant interviews are pretty similar and I hope my experience can give some tips to others who are considering applying.

My advice to anyone who has ever thought of applying for a job with an airline? Just do it. Worst comes to worst, they fly you down to a new city for a day and you get to see how people in the industry interview. Best case scenario, you will get probably the best job in the entire world.

My experience in applying was almost on a whim- I was looking for other jobs on Craigslist and came across a posting for the position. I had envied flight attendants before and thought about the job, but I am neither skinny nor tall. I looked into the job some more and realized the guidelines for applying were much less strict than I previously thought. Most importantly, the job and benefits were incredible. An opportunity to meet people from all over the world and a free flight anywhere I want? Where can I sign up? I started my application and paused it for a while to see a friend. Coincidentally, we also ran into her friend who was a flight attendant., who happened to be the first flight attendant I have ever personally known He told me his experiences with the job and I was sold. The next day I sent my application and hoped for the best.

To my surprise and excitement, I heard back from the airline. I was invited to a video “interview.” Now, with this particular airline (and I have heard it is similar with most) I had to answer several questions into a webcam. I was basically speaking to myself and recording the answers. It is as nerve-wracking and uncomfortable as it sounds- especially to someone who is not so good with interviews in the first place.

I was completely surprised when I received the phone call. The airline wanted to fly me down to Charlotte, NC for the interview! I was ecstatic. Two weeks later, I read everything I thought I needed to know about the interview, put on a freshly-ironed suit and boarded my flight to Charlotte at 5:15 in the morning.

As soon as I got in line for the flight, it was clear for me to see who I was interviewing with. We all were without luggage and dressed neatly in suits. I actually initially believed some of the ladies on the flight with me were already flight attendants! They were so neatly put together, and I began to take my own outfit in account. This may sound like common sense to people, but I made some mistakes with my clothes and I saw others did too. Wear pantyhose under your pants!! This was a rule in the dress code for the interview that I completely forgot. If I ever get the chance to interview with them again, it is definitely the first thing I will change. I also suggest wearing a button-down shirt under your suit. I wore a black and grey sweater and I feel like I did not pull of the flight attendant “look” like the other applicants. Live and learn, I suppose.

When we arrived in Charlotte, we found our way to the shuttle. We were given nametags which I took a picture of and will treasure forever to prove how cool I was once and were told to sit in the cafeteria to wait for our interview time. The cafeteria time was also a test of the interview, from what I understand. Recruiters hung out in the back and watched to see who mingled with the other applicants.

We were then given a presentation about a career with the airlines and recruiters answered any questions we had. Our first part of the interview was a jumpseat and reach test. We were required to strap ourselves into a jumpseat, to make sure we could fit the seat measurements. We were then required to show that we could reach luggage from an overhead bin. I had to take off my heels for it. My shoes were helping to give me a little bit of height, but  all in all, I was tall enough and passed. but not before awkwardly sitting on the wrong seat to do the jumpseat test, but that’s another story.

Next we were required to give one-minute presentations on what makes a good flight attendant. I went with safety, a love for learning and a love for people. I elaborated a bit, thanked the airline for the opportunity and wished the other candidates luck. I was super nervous though and I think it definitely showed in my presentation. I forgot to smile and look excited about the job. I definitely will work on my presentation more, if given another opportunity. Other mistakes candidates made were elaborating on their prior careers. The airline did not care what you did in the past, as that was what got you into the interview in the first place. The interview is about selling yourself to the company with your enthusiasm. One guy actually called the company the wrong airline and he did not receive a job offer. I cringed so bad at that one and I was actually afraid I would do that during the interview too.

Next was a group project where we were stranded in the wilderness and had to put objects together in the level of their importance. I think the recruiters made their decisions by this point and were just looking for common sense and to see how well people could work with others. They’re not looking for a leader, from what I understand.  They are looking for someone with positive input that can really impact the group experience.

Finally, we had lunch and the judges deliberated. They came back and thanked us for our time. They said we would know within a week. As almost an afterthought, the recruiters said they would be keeping several candidates because they had questions on their paperwork. Although they didn’t say it, these candidates were actually those selected for a one-on-one interview and everyone else would not be selected for the job. Sure enough, I got my rejection letter yesterday.

It was a long day, but it was fascinating to see the process. In another six months, I will apply again. Training is six weeks and unpaid, so in some ways I would really like to be more financially stable before starting the job. I actually applied for a customer service position with the airline, so we will see what my future in the industry holds.

Where is Your Next Adventure?: Women’s Travel Fest NYC 2014

Earlier this month I attended Women’s Travel Fest in New York City. The one-day event held on International Women’s Day featured inspiring prominent women in the travel industry. The ladies ranged from Travel Channel guru Samantha Brown to the hilarious Unbrave Girl writer Sally Thelen and the inspiring Sarah Shroud, who spent nearly two years being held hostage in Iranian prison. It was an amazing day in which I learned a ton and met some amazing people. The festival also left me pondering on the question of the day, “Where is your next Adventure?”

I even got to meet Samantha Brown! So cool

I even got to meet Samantha Brown! So cool

Location, Location, Location
Travel Fest was held in the amazing Angel Orensanz Foundation on the Lower East Side. The building probably had some of the best architecture I’ve seen in the city.

So pretty!

So pretty!

The festival also featured a ton of vendors for different travel companies and volunteer opportunities around the globe. There were even a few contests to win some trips, but alas, I was not a winner.

The Speakers…

The day was filled with plenty of extraordinary speakers. Although I could relate more to some than others, everyone had something new to teach me.

Self-proclaimed “language geek” Sonia Gil taught the importance of learning key phrases in the countries you visit, and stressed the 12-pound suitcase. Pack for 14 days, she said, regardless of the amount of time you are spending in the place you visit. Considering I looked like a crazy person in the Orlando airport lugging two suitcases-weighing 50 and 75 pounds respectively-along with a giant carry-on, purse and computer bag, that whole packing light thing is probably something I should look into.

Breathedreamgo founder Mariellen Ward spoke of her life-changing journey to India, while mourning her mother.

“Sometimes travel can save your life,”

Ward said. Her words were something I hope to take with me to my life’s journeys. The future is frightening, but travel will always be the best medicine. My trips to London, South Dakota and Florida all happened at crossroads in my own story. My journeys taught me about the world and, as cheesy as it sounds, taught me about myself. I may not have planned any of my trips this way, but everything I learned was a sort of therapy to me. Right now I must stay in one place for a while and get my shit together. The road will come calling again though, when I need the journey and the timing is right.

(unless I get a traveling job, of course, which is actually a possibility I will talk about in an upcoming blog entry :))

Sally Thelen, author of UnBrave Girl and probably one of my favorite speakers of the day, talked about travelling the world from the perspective of someone who never really wanted to travel the world in the first place. The self-proclaimed “scaredy-cat” spoke about overcoming her fears of anything and everything as she trekked all over Asia. Thelen was as hilarious as she was relatable. I am also someone who is paranoid of everyone and everything and Thelen was probably the most relatable and realistic of the speakers. She taught me that you don’t need to be a super hero to travel the world, you just need the push to do it.

Alternatively, the amazing Sarah Shourd spoke of travel from the other side of the spectrum. Shourd
accidently crossed the border of Iraq into Iran and, along with a friend and her future husband, became a political prisoner in Iranian jail. Shourd was kept in solitary confinement for 410 days. Her story was amazing and really spoke of how strong human will can be when faced with impossible situations. Shourd has taken her journey to her work in human rights organizations. Shourd’s book, A Sliver of Life tells her amazing journey and the stories of the amazing people that she met on her way. Shourd has really made the best of her situation and the impact of the horror she went through will change the lives of so many. She is an incredible person.

Heh, I also learned to probably always check when you are within any proximity of a possibly dangerous country.

Go Girl Guides creator and Women’s Fest founder Kelly Lewis started her own set of travel books for women. The books focus on little known facts that a girl needs to know when traveling a specific region, like where to get tampons in Dubai. The guides are told in the same fashion that a woman would use to give her girlfriends travel advice. The books are super fun and I was even inspired to buy a guide to Argentina after the festival. Of course now I really want to go to Argentina, but I digress. Lewis’s books gave way for her to create one amazing event and a room full of women even more inspired to travel around the world.

From left to right, Sally Thelen, Sarah Shourd, Mariellen Ward and Kelly Lewis.

From left to right, Sally Thelen, Sarah Shourd, Mariellen Ward and Kelly Lewis.

Where is Your Next Adventure?

I learned so much from my day at Women’s Travel Festival. I am still not sure where my next journey will be, but I have a few ideas. I’d like to visit my boyfriend while he studies in Los Angeles this summer. I am also really interested in Argentina and would like a few weeks to spend exploring the cities and mountainside. Wherever my life takes me, I can’t wait for my next adventure.

Disney College Program

So I probably could have and should have updated this through the past few months but better late than never, I suppose. Since August I have been living in Orlando, Florida and working attractions in Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

Me in Animal Kingdom!

Me in Animal Kingdom!

I came down wanting travel adventures. I was excited about the whole free admission to Disney thing, but mostly I wanted weekend trips to places in the south. Parks can get old, but there are never enough cities and wildlife to see.

Well, I didn’t realize just how horrible the transportation would be without a car. I ended up being stranded in Orlando and I still somewhat feel like I failed at what I meant to do there. However, I have absolutely no regrets about doing the College Program. Although I didn’t get a chance to see a ton more of the world, I learned a lot through my job and the people I met. I am more confident than I ever would have been without doing the program. I made very close friends with some of my roommates and (although I hated my job a good 90% of the time) I made some friends at work too. I was at times required to be nasty to guests and yell at grown men way bigger than I was, things I didn’t think I was capable of.  It sounds harsh but I worked a safety critical position and when people did not listen, it put their lives in danger. It made me bitter and angry, as I learned the dark side of the stupidity of humanity,  but I think I finally know how to stand up for myself. I’m really not sure who thought it was a good idea to put me in charge of other people’s lives, but I didn’t kill anyone. So that is a plus, I guess.

And when I wasn’t yelling at people, I got to talk to amazing families from all over the world. A favorite was a “Give Kids the World” (similar to Make a Wish foundation) family I met. The little boy was super sleepy and when I tried to give him a sticker, he was not having it. However, it led  into  a conversation with his happy mother. It was the last day of the vacation but she would tell me how it was definitely a week to remember. She told me how it would probably be the last time they could all do this together. As she smiled and told me the week’s adventures, I felt grateful and happy for them and thankful to be able to share the experience with them. I talked to her for maybe a half hour. I and got yelled at by a supervisor in the progress because I was taking too long, but I like to think I made a difference in her trip, if even it was a miniscule one.

I also realized through my experience that I am a people person. I like talking to people and I like helping them. No matter what my career is-and it won’t be in a theme park, that’s for sure- I would like to keep up with that.

As much as I felt stranded inside the “Disney Bubble,” I did manage to make day trips to Saint Petersburg, Key West, and Tampa. I could definitely have spent days in each of the places and still find more to see, but I am thankful I got the experience I had. I also visited Universal, Gatorland and downtown Orlando, which were all pretty fun  as well. I also went to the Disney parks a countless amount of times.

There are a lot of negatives though. I plan to write a fiction book in the future and have my protagonist touch on some of the issues I and others had while working there. The College Program is a way to pay people minimum wage to do exactly the same amount of work as a full timer. It is NOT an internship. The housing situation was ridiculous. I lived on my own in Philly, so it came as a pretty big shock to me. Every month, we had people come and inspect us for cleanliness and search for contraband like candles or things hanging on our walls (the horrors). When we were paying as much as we were, and all of us were legally adults, it got pretty ridiculous. There were also SO MANY CLIQUES. Especially where I worked. It can get really frustrating when you have graduated college but your workplace feels like a middle school. And I think that’s a big reason why many people do the Disney College Program. It’s their first time away from home and they want this false sense of independence, but they haven’t grown up yet.

Regardless, I am glad I did the program. I learned a lot, I survived, and now I’m looking for a real job. So many people say “the Disney College Program changed my life,” and I do not necessarily think that is true. But living in a new part of the country (or world) and meeting hundreds of new people, that will change your life. I know I will take my memories with me everywhere I go.

The adventure ends… for now.

So I’ve been home for a week now, but I’m just getting to updating this now. I wasn’t as active at this as I would have liked, but I think it will give me a better way at looking at it in years to come.

My summer abroad was definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life. Even if the weather sucked (and it did), I got to experience something I will never forget. I’m looking into a work abroad program for when I graduate, so hopefully I will do at least another four months in London.

To be honest, i think it took me a good four weeks to get used to it. When everyone else said they wanted to move to England, I thought they were crazy. But of course, once I finally started to learn to love it and stopped being homesick, it was time to go home. I miss everything about it so much. (except expenses and the lack of Dunkin Donuts). Mainly, I just loved being able to go out to a pub and meet someone from a different country every time. And the markets. And awesome baguette.

I’ve gotten used to American time and customs again (but I totally had a Post Tramatic Stress Disorder moment when a bird flew by my head and I thought it was going to fly into me or poop on me, like they do in London). Some basic things I figured out about myself I hope to take away from my experience, though. Things I knew I needed to work on anyway, but somehow being a million miles away makes it clearer. I need to spend more time with the people I care about and less time with technology. I also want to get exploring familiar neighborhoods more, and finding new things to discover.

I’ll still be updating this blog sporadically, if I miss London or if I have any other traveling adventures. If I do work abroad once I graduate, I plan to be better at updating this.

 

Cheers!

Seven Days Left in this Amazing City: Olympics and Last Minute Sight-Seeing

It’s been a really fast month, but I’m beginning to pack and get ready to come home. There is still SO MUCH MORE that I want to do.

This weekend I’m spending actually working on homework for my classes abroad and hopefully getting in some last-minute exploring. I’m also going to Brighton Beach for the day on Saturday and I’m really excited about it. Lianna and I are trying to go to a London goth club this weekend because they are supposedly awesome here, but I don’t know if it will happen. I also want to see We Will Rock You, if time permits and I can get tickets. And do some more shopping. before I go home and go completely broke.

I went to the Olympics on Monday, and it was quite possibly one of the coolest experiences of my life.

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I did a tour of the Olympic Park a few weeks ago and it was crazy to go from seeing the absolute ghost town to seeing it with about 100,000 people there. We saw women’s handball Brazil vs. Montenegro and then Norway vs. Sweden. I didn’t know a whole lot about handball, other than we played it in gym class and I seriously hated it. But seeing it live was AWESOME. The sport is so violent (which of course I love) and intense.

I’m usually not a big fan when the Olympics come on TV, but seeing it live was a whole other experience. I loved the energy of the crowd and how much people really get into supporting their country.

Other than that, this week has mostly been busy with school and lectures, rather than our field trips.

When I go home, I think I am going to have a different view of the world. I see I’m too dependent on technology and I need to spend less of my time stressing about work and more on things that are actually important to me. It’s strange how just spending a month in a country that isn’t that different from the US is such a growing experience.

Busy Busy Busy

So only about two more weeks left in London. It’s pretty depressing although in some ways it will be nice to go home. I’ve been pretty homesick lately. Something I wasn’t expecting since I barely come home when I’m at school anyway. I’m also pretty excited to sleep in my own bed when I get home.

I think part of the problem is that there has been so much going on, london and elsewhere, that it’s really hard to take it all in. But then, I dont want to miss anything so I keep pushing myself until I’m feeling really drained. I also don’t want to ruin anyone elses experience but I feel like a joy kill a lot of the time, so I end up keeping to myself.  Plus, I’m really sick and don’t know if I should be resting and trying to get better or *enjoying the London experience* or whatever.

Regardless of a few bumps in the road and being the perpetual Debbie Downer, I am actually having a good time overall. I went out on Monday night with Lianna, Steff and this British guy we met, Alex. He took us to some of his favorite local pubs. They were pretty dead for a Monday night but they were actually pretty cool places. For the first time since I’ve been here, I actually forgot where I was and got to feel “at home” for a while. I had a lot of fun even though it was a pretty simple night out.

The weather has been in the 80s, with literally no clouds in the sky, which feels wonderful. At least it’s not raining all of the time anymore. I think the weather definitely helps brighten my spirits.

So since it’s been a while since I updated, a little run through of what my week has been like. Paris was seriously fantastic and could beat Toronto for my favorite city that I have ever been to. Pretty much all of my friends that have gone there have hated it, called it dirty, etc, but I really LOVED it. Even though I almost got pick pocketed (but that’s another story) the city and music scene are beautiful. Next time I go I really want to go to a jazz club there and get to experience more of that. In addition, I still really need to see the Eiffel Tower at night. Apparently, as the girls I went with found it, it gets *turned off* after 1 am, so none of us got to see it. I also understand why it’s considered the most romantic city. if I have a soul mate, he will one day take me to Paris.

We also finally got to see Abbey Road! It was a little anticlimactic (kind of like Stonehenge… oh it’s a road). but I got my obligatory pictures. There was also a while behind it where people signed their names. Still, it’s pretty much a pilgramage for every music fan to see once in their lives so I’m glad I finally got to do it. It’s such a strange feeling to see all of these places I’ve dreamed about my whole life. It’s amazing really.

Today we also got to tour the BBC, which was really awesome. And made me want to be a journalist even more.

Other than that, I’m taking it easy tonight. I leave for Amsterdam tomorrow, so this weekend is going to be pretty awesome. I’m also hoping I can get scheduled for a doctor’s appointment tonight but my insurance company hasn’t called me back yet so I don’t know how likely that is.

Anyway, hopefully will have another update soon! I keep forgetting I’m going to the Olympics Monday. Another awesome thing crossed off my bucket list.

Post-Stonehenge, Pre-Paris

Just a quick update before I pass out. I’m coming down with a sinus infection (of course, right before I go to Paris) so I’m doing my best to fight it off. I’m on three different types of medications right now and sleeping about ten hours a day, so hopefully something does the trick.

I’ve really been having a lot of fun so far. There have been some ups and downs, but overall I think this trip will be one that I can always remember. I love walking around and visiting different markets. Today we went to Brick Lane, a big Middle-Eastern community and ate at this seriously awesome Pakistani restaurant. We then went to the local market. It’s also a really trendy hipster area, so there were a bunch of fashion boutiques. (Totally revamping my entire wardrobe when I get home. Everyone here dresses so awesome and judges people who look like bums. At least in my mind they do.)

Other than that, today was pretty quiet. I visited Stonehenge and Bath this weekend, which was fantastic.

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[As you can see, I look super excited}.

Maybe because I’ve been wanting to go there for so long. But it was kind of anti-climactic. it looks… pretty much like it does in every photo I’ve seen. Its cool and awesome how they got there in everything. But at the end of the day, it was rocks. But really cool rocks.

We also went to Bath. Which was basically just like any beach resort town in the states .. except you know, used by Romans and having a natural hot springs. It was a really cute little city and I was pretty suprised to find out people live there all year long.

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[Bath from the road}

Other than that, this week we went to the Globe. Shakespeare wrote most of his plays to be performed in there, so it’s a pretty cool part of history (of course, it burnt down and they have rebuilt it since then but it’s pretty much an exact replica). We bought tickets to see Taming of the Shrew in there. Granted they are standing room tickets so we will be standing for four hours and there is no roof and it will rain, but it will be totally worth it.

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Anyway, that’s about it for the past few days. I leave for Paris on Friday, so I will have a lot more to write about then!

Exploring London Continues

The past few days have been a lot less stressful, mainly because I’m starting to run out of money so I have just been going on the class trips and taking it easy otherwise. This weekend we are going to Stonehenge (on Friday the 13th, no less) and Bath, which I am super excited about. I really just want to get outside the city and see some nature again.

Class is mostly guest speakers and field trips (which is pretty awesome) and the assignments are pretty easy (a blog post and a photo essay), so I’m not super worried about that. We had a guy come in yesterday to talk about his work at the BBC and what it has been like for him to work all over the world.

On Tuesday we went to Olympic Park, to see where the Olympics are going to be at. Surprisingly, it’s a really run down part of the city. They’re hoping that having the Olympics there will improve economics and create jobs. However, the tour guide told us that most other Olympic Parks have been neglected and are just eyesores in the city. So hopefully the London one will be different, considering a lot of people were forced to leave their homes so the city could build it.

We also went to the Prime Meridian line so I got to stand in two hemispheres at once. Pretty cool.

Today, we went to the British Library and saw original manuscripts of the Bible, Beatles’ songs and Handle’s Messiah. We’re also going to see a play tonight… 39 steps. Which I have seen before and hated it, so hopefully the traditional English version will be a lot better.

Anyway, just a brief update. Hopefully after Stonehedge I will have a longer one.

 

A few Photos of London, thus far

Life changing.

So while I temporarily have working internet, here are some pictures of my trip thus far. We visited Camden Market today, which is basically South Street Philly on crack. Definitely want to go back and buy a million different things before I leave.

oh yeah, and then a bird pooped on my head and threw food at me…

And yeah. So here are some other pictures of my trip this far:

 

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