Archive | USA RSS feed for this section

Go Big or Go Dutch

7 Nov

Oh just slap me in the face right now. I haven’t updated this blog for what, 5 months? Dude, I suck! So here’s a recap of my traveling adventures since Coachella 5 months ago:

  • ‘Nawlins (New Orleans, Louisiana). Stuffed my face with Po Boys (juicy sandwiches made with roast beef drippings) and beignets (fancy french name for hole-less donut). It was humid, sticky and had a hard time breathing with all that food in my belly.
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands. Interviewed w/ my current employer, rode bikes, ate lots of hotchpotch (hutspot), and almost died in a fire accident while riding in the canals because our boat caught on fire.
  • Truro, Cape Cod. Stayed at a lovely cottage called ‘The Wild Rose’ which made me feel like a giant. It was so tiny – a home for a hobbit. A typical yet cozy New England vacation where we basically ate, slept, drank, beached, and made S’mores.
  • Eindhoven, Netherlands. Dude, I totally moved here! Got a new job pushing that social media button and now I’m living the expat life in my big ol’ Dutch house.
  • Antwerp, Belgium. Such a beautiful city. Was taken here on a special surprise birthday trip (Thanks Davesaur)!

Wait whaaaat? Yeah. Letting it sink in. That’s right. I MOVED TO THE FRICKIN’ NETHERLANDS.

What is it like living in Holland Eindhoven as an American expat?

  • You’ll get sexy Dutch legs from all that biking.
  • You must focus on which arm is stronger and dedicate that arm to holding your umbrella while riding your bike. This is truly a Dutch skill.
  • You get traveling ADD because Europe is at your finger tips and you want to go somewhere new every weekend!
  • The Dutch proudly admit that they are direct & blunt. So I’ve learned to kill my inner human emotions in order to become more Dutch. And I’ve mastered the gutteral ‘gckkk’ sound.
  • Your English will deteriorate faster than Payless shoes. Say goodbye to knowing perfect English based off what ‘sounds right’ because you will be listening to questionable English 24/7 (not pointing fingers at the Dutch or any country in particular, JUST IN GENERAL).
  • Taxi cab drivers are allowed to yell at you. Your server will literally do their job title, and serve you food. Don’t expect anything greater than that in the customer service department. And if they go beyond that expectation, then you can tip them and it’s actually deserved, rather than out of obligation.
  • Planning errands is a must. On weeknights, shops close at or around 6PM. On Sundays, EVERYTHING IS CLOSED, except for coffee shops. The Dutch know how to take it easy that’s for sure.
  • As an expat, I’m constantly mourning these American luxuries: Trader Joe’s, cheap dry cleaning, dryer sheets, Amazon Prime, bank checks, NBA basketball, 24-hour stores, Target, delicious food in general, NETFLIX, not being banned from CBS, FOX and other tv channels online, bed sheets that don’t feel like paper, Pandora.com, cooking with a normal gas & stove oven, and El Palon burritos.
  • You’ll learn that biking everywhere is the best thing EVER. So much better than sitting in traffic!
  • As an expat you will be confused about EVERYTHING. ALL THE TIME. Just smile and nod.
  • Trash disposal is a puzzle to me. My cardboard boxes refuse to be picked up and are left to rot in the rain. Thus I have stored these cardboard boxes in my shed. Also, it appears that there’s no plastic recycling pick-up. Sadface.
  • It can be lonely moving to a foreign country all by yourself for a new job. Even if the city is teeming with expats and people who have gone through your experience, it doesn’t make it any easier.
  • Anti-perspirant doesn’t really exist here, or maybe people just don’t use it – I know this because everytime I go to the gym I want to vomit from the mixture of human stenches. Also, to destroy my capacity to breathe further, the B.O. is pathetically masked by 5 gallons of cologne from Abercrombie & Fitch.
  • R.I.P. STARBUCKS. It doesn’t exist in Eindhoven and I hear there’s only 2 in the entire country. The best coffee you can get is from Dowe Egberts, which opens at 1PM (wtf?!) on Mondays. *SOB*
  • As an expat you will end up with a lot of junk-mail. Everything that can’t be deciphered in English (99.9% of the mail) ends up going into the trash.
  • I AM CONSTANTLY THIRSTY. The beverage portions are the size of my thumb and cost as much as a 6-pack in the U.S. –  Like, 6-pack of 2-liter sodas! The only exception to this rule is BEER. 

Ok, perhaps I’m being a big baby and ranting (but I’m American damn it and I need my goods and convenience!). My experience as an expat in Holland has been very mixed so far, leaning towards extremely homesick for the US. But I know I have to give it time, and to be positive, blah blah blah. It’s amazing – I’ve traveled all over the world and have moved to different cities countless times – but backpacking, studying abroad, and vagabonding/couchsurfing have all been walks in the park compared to this experience of moving abroad for work and becoming an expat.

How to Survive Coachella Music Festival

5 May

Desert. Endless miles of walking. Tents. Oven-baked porta-potties. Hydration stations swarming with sweaty humans. And of course, 200 live acts of eargasmic musical performances that will change your zen forever, man.

It’s a battle in the desert, so here are some tips on how to survive Coachella Music Festival and still enjoy your 3-day musical journey.

Camp out with your pants out

  • SKIP THE HOTEL. Not only are you spending boatloads of money on top of the $350 RFID wristband, you’re totally losing out on the Coachella experience. Grunge it up, mingle with your kind, and don’t be a pansy. 
  • DON’T PROCRASTINATE. Sensible Simon should tell you to purchase your camp site / car camping passes at the same time you purchase your Coachella ticket. However, most of us music-festers don’t know who Sensible Simon is and got ultimately  SCREWED when all these passes were bought up by evil scalpers. Instead of being sold for $75 at face value, you’d see them being sold on Craigslist for $150-$300! Hale-to-the-No.
  • CAR CAMPING > TENT CAMPING. The way the lots were arranged this year, the tent lot was furthest away from the music stages – although it was definitely quieter, making it easier to get some sleep – it was SOOO FAR! In the desert, every step you take feels like an eternity. With car camping the lots are closer to the music venues and you can obviously pack a lot more supplies to help you survive Coachella – ie. coolers, beer, grills, blow-up dolls etc.  You can also easily fit 2-3 tents in one car camping spot. If you and a couple of friends get car camping passes – you could totally combine forces and build a giant mega-fort! Awesome! Only downside, if even – it’s a lot livelier and noisier, so you may not get all that much sleep (which is why you pack red bull).
  • DANCE. NAP. DANCE.  Another reason to camp. You’re going to be so exhausted from all the concerts that you’re going to be so thankful that you can just walk to your tent and crash for a bit. If you stay at a hotel, you won’t be able to do this and you probably won’t enjoy Coachella as much because of the exhaustion.

ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO PACK

  • SUNBLOCK. You’re in the desert! Do you want skin cancer? WHY ARE YOU WEARING PAINT ON YOUR FACE?  Don’t forget to bring chapstick with sun protection as well.
  • SUNGLASSES. For obvious reasons. The laser show at night!
  • WATER CONTAINER. Water is $2.00. Gatorade is $4.00. Coachella has hydrating stations with filtered water that’s FREE. I didn’t bring one and as a result I spent $100 on water in order to keep myself hydrated.
  • WET ONES TOWELETTE WIPES. You may need this to take a “hippy shower.” Or after a trip to the porta-potty. This seriously was something I was glad to have with me.
  • TAMPONS. They are like $7.00 for a pack of 5. Ridiculously expensive. Bring them for bloody noses, because of the dry climate weather. Yea…that’s it…
  • COMFY, LIGHT, BREEZY CLOTHES. It’s hot. No need to dress to impress. 
  • PANTS & HOODIE. The reason why the desert gets so hot is due to the thin atmosphere and lack of water. The heat penetrates through this thin layer making it very hot in the day. And guess what, at night the heat disappears and  it can drop to around 40-50 degrees.
  • FLIP-FLOPS & SNEAKERS. Sneakers for long-distance walking and extreme bio-dome dancing. Flip-flops for the showers.
  • UMBRELLA FOR YOUR TENT. This sounds weird, but if you can put some type of umbrella or another tent on top of your tent – you will be able to get some more shade. You couldn’t sleep past 7AM because the sun would penetrate the tent and singe your forehead.
  • COLGATE WISPS. For those times you lose your toothbrush and yo breath seriously stanks. (Thx Sam!)

ITEMS YOU SHOULD LEAVE AT HOME

  • Indian feather headdress
  • Body/face paint (sweating + body paint = smelly hipster creature)
  • Flannel shirt
  • Gladiator sandals
  • Babies (seriously, I saw babies there, wtf?)
  • Frugalness – just face it, you’re going to spend lots of money
  • DSLR cameras – unless you want it to explode

WHAT WILL REALLY HAPPEN

You probably won’t read tips like this before departing rainy Boston for sunny California. The night before you fly you’ll probably order a tent and sleeping bag and ship it overnight to your parent’s house in Chino Hills. You’ll also only get 1 hr of sleep. Then you will drive to the desert, stopping by In-n-Out for an animal-style burger along the way. Then you’ll pick up a Coachella wristband from some rando you found on FB and meet him at a grocery store in the middle of nowhere. Then you’ll arrive to Coachella at around midnight – only to drive around the Polo Field anchovied in amazing traffic in the middle of the night. Then you’ll nap in an abandoned church parking lot, because you won’t know what else to do. Then you’ll wake up –  discover a tiny residential neighborhood 3 miles outside of the venue – and park your car with the risk of getting towed. At 1AM you’ll be running through the desert with coyotes howling at you. After security gropes your belongings and you get checked in, you’ll wander aimlessly with your luggage weighing you down – redialing your couchsurfing friend Nolan who was supposed to hook you up with a tent spot. Unfortunately, Nolan is probably drunk and wasted and won’t pick up his phone. Finally, you’ll give up and plop down out of exhaustion – where you’ll set up your tent illegally and probably on somebody else’s spot. BUT! YOU’LL GET AWAY WITH IT – for the entire weekend – without having to pay a single dime for parking or camping! And Sensible Sam will cry in his corner. And you will have an awesome, mind-blowing, fantastical, magical time enjoying all of your favorite bands – questioning why Lauryn Hill is wearing a beanie – laughing at Cee Lo Green as he rants on stage – and then eat lots of food that costs $8. 
For more information check out Coachella’s website.

#TigerBloodIntern ROUND 3, Time for K.O.

22 Mar

I haven’t posted in awhile – with all the snow and moody Boston weather I have had a certain lackluster for reminiscing about my past travels. Meanwhile, I have been looking for opportunities to head back west where I can continue leveling up in toxic CO2 levels to fuel the tiger blood running through my blue veins. Ok actually, I’m returning as the prodigal daughter to be with my family and rebuild my career.

SO, I have moved on to Round 3 of the #Tigerbloodintern challenge to be Charlie Sheen’s Twitter Fiend. There are rumors that only 50 have made it to Round 3, but I know that’s false because I used my magical Twitter skills and searched hashtags/keywords and saw well over 400 tweets containing “#tigerbloodintern round 3.”

My applications for Round 1 & 2 contained phrases like:

  • “I am the hurrichang, I will make it rain and flood your brain with awesomeness”
  • “B.S degree. Yes I’m full of it.”
  • “GPA 3.5, Marketing & Social Media Wizardry.”
  • “I make doctors tickle.”

But Round 3’s application is a bit more serious in nature and I expect it’s because they’re trying to weed out the crazies/lazies vs. actual fierce tigerblood candidates. I’m not sure which category I fall into yet, but I expect that the candidate pool will decrease tremendously after this round. Besides, not many people will be able to make a bomb-ass video by this Friday.

Here are Round 3’s application instructions:

  1. Create a YouTube video answering one of the three social media questions listed below. No video over 2 minutes in length will be considered. Only one video submission is allowed.
  2. Dress professionally and take your answer seriously. Your video interview will be judged on quality of content and potential for community engagement.
  3. Clearly introduce your topic at the beginning of your video.
  4. After you have uploaded your video to YouTube, copy and paste your YouTube video URL into the box below and click SUBMIT. The deadline for submission is Friday night March 25th at 11:59PM PDT.


Below are the Round 3 questions:

  1. If you were the Social Media Director for a major humanitarian aid organization, how would you create awareness and raise money via social media in the aftermath of a global disaster?
  2. In your opinion, what is the best company using social media today and why?
  3. How would you advise a candidate running for public office to leverage social media in his or her campaign for election?

We’ve already got one eager beaver posting his application on YouTube. And sometimescool’s. So – What do you guys think? Which question should I answer? Will I be able to K.O. this challenge out of the park? I THINK YES. #WINNING

Screw you 2011, I’m Unleashing the Dragon

9 Feb

Apologies for giving you blue blog balls – I know you’ve been anticipating this post and I refuse to give you the satisfaction just because I let you cop a feel while I was drunk. I’ve been having a love affair with Netflix and really, I’m so busy staring off into space at work while my creative juices dry up like a woman on menopause that I haven’t had time to write. I’ve also turned terribly vulgar and have lit my filter on fire – a well-known side effect to having post-traveling ennui.

So basically in 2011 I’m a failure. I had this magical life-long goal that I would celebrate New Year’s in a country I’ve never been to before every single year. I was successful the last two years in the UK & Ecuador. For some reason however, it just didn’t happen this year. I blame it on this ancient Chinese superstition – the curse of the Chinese zodiac (via Jenny). You see, 2011 is the year of the rabbit – and I was born during this year – so therefore, this will be a very unlucky year. And the only thing that will protect me are DRAGONS. Rar.

So here I go…!!! Unleashing the DRAGON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Try to find him in all the shots, it’s like playing where’s waldo?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

His name is Fred – a tiny “grow your own” Dragon that I carried with me during my travels throughout China, Macau, and Thailand. He was given to me by my dear friend Jennio. Unfortunately, I lost him in China so I couldn’t take him with me on the rest of my travels around the world. Ultimate Sadface.

Okay, so my new year’s wasn’t ALL that terrible and it did have some international flair. I dressed up like a vivacious pilot wearing authentic Chinese aviator goggles at a fake airline launch party, which was held inside an old hangar tucked away in the warehouse district in Brooklyn, NY. I was accompanied by a British Top Gun pilot so I guess that’s as close as I was gonna get to kicking off the new year on foreign soil. Doesn’t beat playing with monkeys and shamans in the Amazon jungle like I did last year (which I hope to write about very soon).

Flashback Travel Moment:

While I was digitally rummaging through my photos I stumbled upon this funny parallel between two New Year’s experiences that involve a glimpse into my thug lyfe.

(ABOVE: New Year’s 2008 in London. BELOW: New Year’s 2011 in NYC)

Don’t worry, I try to keep my criminal activities at a minimum and offset this behavior by working at a healthcare company, “saving lives.”

Dealing With Post-Traveling Ennui

3 Dec

The problem with leading an exciting, adventurous  life  is that you have to balance it all out with a mind-numbingly boring existence – either before or after your journey. “For the good can only exist when holding hands with evil.” Actually I just made up that quote, but feel free to spread it like a winter flu.

So how does one deal with the crushing force of ennui (another fancy word for BOREDOM) when coming back home after a long, eye-opening journey? Some people spend time catching up with old friends to reminisce about how much nothing has changed. Others flock to the watering hole at beer o’ clock, which can be any time of the day. I mean you’re global now, so even if you’re drinking at 6am there’s definitely a happy hour taking place somewhere in the world, right? Others cope with post-traveling gloom by taking up hobbies such as knitting, archery or blogging. And me? What do I do? I take pictures of my foot at work to ease the pain:



Yup. That’s my foot creepin’ up behind my computer monitor in front of me. Yup, I took a picture of it as an act of rebellion against office life and to feel like I’m being adventurous, within the confines of my 6 x 6 cubicle. Take that, office job.

I’ve been learning how to  cope with my post-traveling depression in other ways as well. Sometimes, I steal cones and give them rides to unknown destinations:


If I don’t get to travel, then at least that orange cone does. I mean, poor cone. You gotta feel bad for him – standing out there all day long begging for attention with his orange finesse. And what do people do? They just straight up ignore him! Knocking him over like he’s not even there for a reason.

So after 3 months of being back, I think I’ve learned how to cope pretty darn well. I mean, I don’t get to climb mountains or meet exotic foreign travelers anymore. But I do get to meet people like this guy:

Yea, we pounded fists. I think I’ll refer him to howaboutwe.com.

So, that’s how I’ve been dealing with my post-traveling ennui. What about you guys? How have you guys been coping?

Death On Wheels, Bali & NYC

6 Nov


What do NYC & Bali have in common? Pretty much nothing except for the dirty air.

Recently I participated in the world’s most DANGEROUS skateboarding race in NYC. Known as the Broadway Bomb, I longboarded about 2 hours straight through the clusterbog of pedestrian tourists and angry cab drivers. While riding through times square I was towed by a bike delivery-man, then at one point I latched onto the back of the bus – I felt like I was going to die. My left butt-cheek was sore for weeks but it was fun.

Speaking of sore butt cheeks, this conjurs up a similar time when I thought I was going to die riding on the back of a moped for 3 hours straight in Bali, Indonesia. I wanted to go to Tulamben where I could dive the USS Liberty Wreck, one of the most famous wrecks in the world. The only way to ride free was by moped. I hopped on the back of some Joe Schmoe, put on a sweaty helmet, and proceeded to damage the baby-maker from all the dirt bumps in the road.

You see, in Bali there are no sidewalks. There are very few “highways” that will take you from one side of the island to the other. So the entire time I was breathing up toxic fumes from trucks and every second was a near-death experience with all the whizzing mopeds. My face was so dirty by the end of the trip that when I took my sunglasses off you could see dirt-stained shape around my eyes. Fashionable.

My favorite catch of the day was the sighting of the fat Indonesian kid waiting for his ride….mooooo.

Finding Musical Love in Amsterdam

3 Oct

Last night I had a magical birthday celebration at Royale in Boston. Designer Drugs was DJing and I was in the happiest state one could ever ask for on their birthday – pure euphoria. I was surrounded by the people I loved; I was shaking my limbs to electro beats. Sweat was dripping down strands of my hair and I didn’t care. Does anyone else feel the music the same way I do? Who’s that grabbing me? I went nuts on stage. I wore the invisible birthday crown, and I wore it proud. I was in love……and I’m not talking about Hollywood romance love.

TIME TRAVEL TO AMSTERDAM. It was the first weekend of August and I was on the train to Holland. I snuck into a coachette and cuddled up with my backpack on the floor. I didn’t get much sleep due to extreme paranoia that I would get drugged, mugged, or kicked off the train for having no reservation. 17 hours later from Budapest to Amsterdam I had finally arrived in Haarlem, waving at the Philips HQ as we rode past Amsterdam.

Later, I hopped on my €20 rental bike and skittered away like I was flying with Harry Potter on a broom. About 9 of us rode our bikes to Dance Valley: 3 Spanish, 5 Dutch, and me. Dance Valley is an outdoor electronica music fest that takes place in a wide open field of valleys. Remember Pleasure Island in Pinocchio? Huge white tents, man-made wooden villages, pretty waving flags with pastel colors, ferris wheel, stages with flashing lights in the shape of phoenix birds, carnival games, fairies walking on stilts, octo-grasshoppers, and the never-ending *doosh doosh doosh* of electronic music playing from different stages. It was hedonistic Disneyland for the ravers. Here’s a taste.

Rainy muddy splashes and some nibbles later I was feeling warm vibrations & extremely energetic! I hear a *chop chop chop* and holy crap – it’s Armin Van Buren flying in on a helicopter! He hopped onto the Phoenix Bird stage…and then the  music began. That’s when I realized that this was love. It was washing all over me in the form of musical vibrations and synthesized beats and melodies. We danced under the plastic tarp with rain droplets sprinkled above us; we were invincible. I was a little girl playing cat & mouse. We were dancing with our neighbors, we were dancing with ourselves, we were dancing and celebrating LIFE. Since then, everytime I listen to techo/house I am brought back to this moment & feeling.

1 million miles per hour later I found myself crawling back to Amsterdam at the end of August, seeking out another new experience. We went to the last beach party of the year in Blumendaal followed by a visit to somebody’s Villa. It was owned by a guy named WIM.  When I first met him,  he said to me, “My name is WIM, W-I-M, like WIMP but without the P.” He was a dad in his 40’s and was throwing an after party for his son and his friends. He had a fullly stocked bar and DJ in his basement. Sound-proofed walls and a stripper pole with strobe lights made this one of my favorite places in the world. I hugged Anouk and danced with a tranny while spinning around the stripper pole (what? I know). WIM offered me GHB to calm down and I said no thanks. I couldn’t tell what time it was when I went to bed, but my toes were still busting moves.

Back in Boston, I woke up this morning wiggling my toes still dancing to the beats of Designer Drugs in my head. All day today I was replaying last night’s events & Amsterdam events in my head. Both experiences were epic and equally memorable. I’m so thankful to have met such happy, free-spirited people during my adventure in the Netherlands and on my 23rd birthday.

….long live Queen Beatrix. The Dutch truly know how to live and love. Thanks for time traveling with me.

 

%d bloggers like this: