18 Tips That Will Help You Get The Most Out of Your Vacation

Alright people, it’s been too. damn. long. I’m bacccckkkk. I know you guys missed me.

I’ve had a bad case of writers block over the past year (life, ya know) and I can’t wait to dive back into what I love. Writing about random shenanigans that make me laugh while, hopefully, making you laugh as well. I mean that’s why you are here, right? For those of you who don’t know me yet or my writing style, welcome and enter at your own risk. I march through life to the beat of my own drum, I’m an open book, I’m both hilarious and slightly annoying, and I hope “didn’t take life too seriously” is mentioned briefly in my eulogy one day.

Travel is my thing. It’s the only thing I can purchase that makes me feel richer. When I’m in a good place, it makes me better. When I’m feeling down, it brings me back to reality and sparks interest in my life again. I have really focused on priortizing it since graduating college, and have been privelged to visit 7 countries over the course of 3 short years. People always ask me how I do it. Why do I do it? How am I able to afford it? Do you ever work? Hahahah. So I wanted to share with you guys 18 core elements to my travel brain that help me let loose, embrace the journey, and just go. Enjoy!

1) Just book the ticket

Hesitation is probably one of the main things that keep people from traveling to new places. What if I can’t get off work? What if I can’t afford it? I don’t want to go alone. I don’t want to waste all of my vacation. Who is going to watch the dog? Hey guess what… if you just buy the ticket you are forced to figure those things out. And you will. The money will always come back. Everything will work out. Live in the now and travel while you are young and able. If you’re giving yourself a headache over constantly watching for the best airline price, download Hopper. It’s an app that allows you to enter your preferences (date, location, etc) for your trip, and alerts you when prices are lowest/best time to buy. Oh, and there’s travel insurance if you are worried about getting off from work. Bottom line is, life will figure itself out. BUY THE DAMN TICKET.

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2) Pack light

So I’ve learned the hard way with this one. I’m a girly girl at heart. Do I want a minimum of 3 different wardrobe outfits a day? Well, sure. But your luggage really does limit you. If you don’t believe me, try lugging around two 50+ pound bags in the Tokyo subway station during rush hour. Not cute ladies, not cute. I’ve been called high maintenance, and even I was able to pack 2 weeks worth of a Europe trip in a carry on. Message me if you need ideas on how to manage this. I got yo back like chiropract.

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More force, Mindy. More force.

3) Make a TENTATIVE itinerary  

I’m normally not a fan of itineraries, schedules, excel sheets, really anything that interrupts my Type B personality. However, to really maximize your TIME (this is an important one) and your experiences, you should really have a tentative itinerary to help keep you on track. I emphasize “tentative” because you never know when there is going to be a flash mob during Pride week in the streets of Vienna. A rainy day you didn’t plan for. An impromptu roller coaster ride with a group of Japanese high schoolers you just met. And heaven forbid you just want to skip lunch and go straight to happy hour after 15 hours of traveling. Be flexible while still knowing that you can reference Appendix B for ideas if you’re bored or have down time. (Oh, and having a Type A friend to travel with is a hot commodity. Yes I’m looking at you, Irina. )

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4) Do yo research

I’m talking more than just knowing the language and capital. How are the people there? Are you expected to tip? Is it rude to look at people directly? What’s the crime like, and who are you supposed to contact in times of crisis? Do you drink the water? Are you going to look like an idiot if you ask “Where’s the nearest Starbucks?” Be prepared for any unfamiliar place so you can walk off that plane feeling like a badass, prepared to dive into the culture and everything new. Or you can go in blind and look like a clueless Kim Kardashian ready to bring a whole new meaning to the term boojie tourist. Choice is yours my friend.

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5) See as many places as possible

The world is a HUGE place. Pretty sure my bucket list is more detailed than my professional resume. Sorry mom. If you are like me, you have an urge to see as much of the world as possible. Now, I’m not going to calculate to the second decimal point how many days/hours/weeks you will have for travel in your lifetime. But unless you are fortunate enough to travel freely whenever you want (shout out to all my wanderlust dreamers out there #lifegoals), you need to maximize each and every trip. I’ve seen 3 different cities in the Domincan Republic over 5 days, and I recently just got back from a 11 day Europe trip where I traveled to 4 different countries. It’s possible, I promise.

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Can we all just take a moment and admire how adorable Michelle Obama is? That woman truly has a swagger like no other.

6) Meet locals

There really is no better way to explore a new place. Don’t be shy. You don’t know these people, what is the worst that could happen?! Some of my best memories from traveling are those spent with the people I met while visiting. A tourist can’t show you all the hidden spots kept secret by the people who live there. A tourist can’t teach you traditional Greek dance. A tourist probably doesn’t know the best bar to go to on a Wednesday, and a tourist sure as hell can’t help you with directions. Don’t be afraid to stray away from the resort. Comfort is great, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day, there ain’t much you can take away from that all-inclusive life other than a full stomach, a sunburn, and a bad hangover.

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This is what Greece was like, y’all lol

7) Don’t book tours

You won’t need to after meeting some locals as described above. I only bought one guided tour during my Eurotrip this summer, and that’s because we had less than 24 hours in Portugal and needed the bus for easy transport. If you do your research and prioritize your “have to see” list, it’s so much more fulfilling to venture and do it on your own. Nothing screams typical American tourist more than a group of eager beavers walking single file while trying to figure out how to use the headset. “Wait, mine’s still on French! How do I change it to English?!”.  Ay, dios mio!

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8) Extend your stay if possible

If you are able, just stay an extra day or two. There is nothing more thrilling. Travel  insurance is wonderful people. You’ll figure it out 😉 I was able to reschedule my flight home from Venice due to a travel strike. Which are common in Europe, by the way. I mean, I probably could have told Delta I wasn’t able to make it to the airport because I stepped on my PBJ sandwich and they would have worked with me. Not to discredit P Diddy, but..

I’m not coming home, I’m not coming home
Tell the world I’m not coming home

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9) Attempt to learn the language

Okay, okay, I didn’t say you had to be FLUENT. Relax. No one said you had to invite Rosetta Stone. The three things I make sure I learn how to say when I’m visiting a new place are “Hello”, “Thank You”, and “How much does this cost?”. It’s really not hard. It will make you look less touristy, it will make things easier for you, and it’s actually pretty fun. Plus, it makes you feel like a well-traveled scholar. Just trying to be like you, Ron Burgundy. Just trying to be like you.

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10) Get it on video

One word: GoPro. Make this term a verb when you travel. There are just certain aspects to traveling that can’t be captured in a picture. Film allows you to get the sensation of re-living the moment. Plus, video montages are fun to make and may just become a new hobby of yours. Hayley Takes Europe: Summer 2017, coming soon. 

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Disclaimer: this dude is way more of a badass than I am. I don’t even know how to surf.

11) Be flexible and willing to try new things

Guys, things are going to be different. If you can’t embrace that, why are you traveling there? Life is too short to remain in your comfort zone. If the people have been eating it for years, I promise it won’t kill you. Don’t be basic. Leave that shit at home.

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12) Don’t count calories

Just don’t. Life is about balance. And it hurts my soul to think of anyone passing up a Margherita pizza due to fear of the caloric intake. Food is a huge part of culture. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a foodie! It makes me nauseous to think of dieting while on holiday. Just eat the damn pizza/gyro/eggroll/hamburger/gelato/paella/etc. You will most likely walk half of it off by the end of the day.  Nobody cares if you are strong enough to say “no” to dessert or another bottle of wine. Even Einstein is not impressed by your willpower at this point.

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13) Sacrifice sleep

Seriously. You can sleep when you’re dead. Fine, you can sleep on the plane home. Okay yeah, that’s hard to do too. YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU GET HOME. Let caffeine do what it’s been doing for centuries. Because what can you see/do/taste/drink when you’re sleeping? Not a damn thing. Don’t miss the sunrise/sunset, don’t miss the night life, don’t miss the early morning hustle and bustle. Try to let the little kid excitement inside you carry you through. Just whisper “Christmas morning” to yourself upon waking up everyday. Or mimosas and eggs benny. That always seems to work for me #basic

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14) Documentation is everything

Pictures. Videos. Emails. Hashtags. Journals. Snap Chats. All of it. Don’t let it engulf your every move and allow yourself to not live in the moment. But the only person you can get pissed at for not having enough pictures once you get home is yourself. Don’t worry about being overbearing on social media while you’re on vacation. There is no. such. thing. Most people love getting to live vicariously through you, or so I’ve been told. To any of you who disagree with me on this matter….bye Felicia.

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15) Use AirBnB for lodging 

Pretty, pretty please. Don’t visit a new place. Experience living in a new place. Cheaper, more efficient, more privacy, feels more like home, etc etc etc. Don’t stay in a hotel, especially if you are in a group. And don’t get all bent out of shape over the bad reviews. There’s always going to be bad apples. Some of us don’t really care that the bed sheets aren’t 1500 thread count Egyptian quality, Karen.

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16) Travel solo

At least once. Even if for a day. It’s just…. magical. Hard to explain it, just do it! You will learn more about yourself than you realize. You are forced to.

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Eat Pray Love version of Julie Roberts vibes all day errdayyyy

17) Don’t be afraid

Traveling is the perfect time to practice giving people and places the benefit of the doubt. It’s crazy how much people hold back due to the unfamiliar. Just drop any fear you may have and allow yourself to just be. Oh, you think it’s unsafe to be vulnerable and trusting in this new place? Have you ever thought how dangerous home is? Bet I just blew your mind, huh? You’re going on an adventure, so let it be one. Embrace it.

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18) Allow your trip to change you… to evolve you

I’m going to do my best to not sound like a sappy travel blogger gone Hallmark. But in my opinion, the importance in traveling for self growth is so underemphasized in today’s society. One of the biggest regrets I will ever have is not studying abroad. I urge you to go into a new place completely vulnerable and willing to be transformed. Allow the difference in language, food, currency, and people to teach you something. You don’t always need to be in control–that’s for your monotonous, routine life at home. It’s not always comfortable, and most of the times it may even be a little frightening. But if you allow it to, the journey will change you. Do this and I promise you will take something valuable home with you. And hopefully, you leave something good behind when you leave.

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So there you have it. A concise collection of some of my best tips on how to maximize your experience and your time while abroad. The more you maximize your experience, the more you will get out of it. Hence, the more willing your bank account is going to be in forgiving you for giving it an anxiety attack. Travel is absolutely about exploring a different place, but it’s also about exploration within yourself. When it’s all said and done and your trip comes to an end, home will still be the same. But hopefully something in your mind has changed. And that changes everything.

Cheers!

xoxo, H

The 16 most touristy things said during my vacation: Dominican Republic edition

    So it’s been a little over two months since I got back from my vacation to one of the most beautiful islands EVER. My best friend is from the the DR, and I was fortunate enough to finally go visit the motherland with her. Let me tell you, there is really no better way to explore a new place than with someone who has been there before. Or in this case, many times before. Shout out to Irina. Ok ok, also Ivana. And Galla. And Alexei, Daniel, Leidy, and Marianna. Real World Punta Cana 2016, what upppp.

    Just how I stood out like “Where’s Waldo” during our Japan trip (imagine a sea of slick black hair with a blonde lions mane courtesy of yours truly), this time was no different. I’ve been told I’m a great person to travel with, but I also could have single handedly defined the word tourist. So for those of you that have recently been or are thinking about visiting this kick-ass place, here’s some of the highlights from my trip. In basic white girl vernacular. Sometimes I’m funny.

1. “One of us will definitely get Zika”

Y’all, it’s real. And not just in a “people won’t stop talking about this shit” real, but in a “wait someone google the symptoms of Zika because I may have it” real.

Actually it was a mosquito - http://www.loonyhumor.com

    2. “Just divide by 45.”

So watching me try to figure out how to convert between USD and any other form of currency has got to be the most entertaining thing ever. Apparently you can just divide what you owe in Dominican pesos by 45 to figure out what you owe in USD. Thankful for a best friend that understands math. And for smart phones with calculators. Who knows how much those street vendors went home with after they met me.

3. “So is Drake here this weekend?”

Yup, #DominicanDrake is a thing. The guy literally just happened to be at the same part of the island during the same time we were there. Champagne Papi looking more and more like a bouncer at a Caribbean social club in the Bronx with each visit.

Can You Catch These Common Grammar Mistakes? (QUIZ)

4. “Buckle up and hold on tight. No, but seriously. Is there even a speed limit here?!”

Picture this. I get off the plane, finally exit the Santo Domingo airport after 2 hours spent in customs (the locals like to take advantage of tourist’s ignorance and cut them in line.. normally I would be angry, but I was actually impressed at their idgaf attitude lol), and get into a pickup truck with an 18 year old driver who is consuming an alcoholic beverage. Yes, while en route. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never seen any of the The Fast and the Furious movies, but I totally get it now. Honking is equivalent to a friendly “how’s it going” head nod in the dominican culture.

Night in the life of a night shift nurse

5. “I’ll have an order of the mangu. Ok, I’ll take two orders. You know what, might as well bring me three.”

Anyone that knows me knows that I frequently make love to my food, but this was an entirely new sensation for me. This was an obsession. I mean seriously guys, please don’t let me order mangu more than twice in one day next time.

Mangú (Dominican-style Mashed Plantain)  HispanicKitchen.com:

Or allow me to publicly proclaim my heart’s desires.

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6. “So I guess they don’t believe in strict gun laws.”

After my wild ride transit from the airport, we decided to stop and get a beverage at a local gas station (insert Presidente emoji). Because, you know, that’s what you do in the DR when there’s a girl in the backseat screaming for dear life. This was my first encounter with gas station “security” which basically consists of men in uniform holding rifles who of course make me paranoid.  Try not to act weird, Hayley. Try not to act weird. Workin’ on it guys.
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7. “Presidente for president”

Because alcohol > politics, and beer is pretty great no matter where in the world you’re drinking it.

8. “To the left to the left (kiss)”

It’s always fun when you go to a place and get to feel classy AF because you’re expected to follow the social norm with the hello kiss. Until you’re up close and personal with someone and immediately forget which side to go to. It’s to the left, people. I was fortunate enough to dodge a few close calls to the lips. I love your family Irina, but not like THAT.

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9. “Run? I thought you said Rum”

Allow me to be cliche for a second and brag about how amazing Dominican rum is. No seriously, felt like drinking a cold Sonic slush  on a hot summer day. With booze juice that has the taste of, um, well basically nothing. #brugal

Time flies when you're having rum... beach cover up!:

Oh, and I need this tank. For obvious reasons.

10. “Oh you know, just chillin’ at Christopher Columbus’ crib.”

I don’t even know how to describe how crazy of a feeling it was to be standing in something that was built in the late 1400’s. But I couldn’t figure out if he would have put the pool table on the back porch or in the den. Feel like he was cool.

11. “I guess my hips do lie.”

Let me start by saying that I truly do consider myself a good dancer. I know how to get my hips moving. But after trying to learn the merengue and the bachata and miserably failing, I finally accepted the fact that my hips (at this point) can not move like THAT. Some of those guys can make themselves look like swivel chairs.

More #DominicanDrake because this shit is hilarious.

12. “Why is everyone clapping?”

When you fly to the DR from Austin there are usually 2 airports that you connect through. Either Miami or JFK in New York City. The flight out of JFK usually consists of mainly Dominicans with a sprinkle of the obvious “I’ve got my happy-go-lucky vacation for the next 7 days face on” tourists. Again, yours truly. Well, I guess it’s some kind of tradition for them to clap upon landing in Santo Domingo. I mean, full on applause. Cheering.  “Excuse me. Was there something wrong with the plane that I was unaware of? Are we celebrating life right now?”

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13. “One glass of Sangria is ENOUGH”

This should serve as a public health announcement. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how they do it. But just believe me when I say, authentic dominican sangria is STIFF. Not like the “this is basically juice, I love how I can have 4 glasses and be completely fine” sangria that we have here. Just trust me. You really only need one glass.

14. “That’s cool that they got a table and bottle service for graduation week. Wait… these are high schoolers?!”

Man do they start ’em young. Set aside the fact that the drinking age is 18. These kids know how to PARTY. I’m talking escorted by a driver, black and white attire, handing out bottles of champs like it’s hot potato in the nicest club in Santo Domingo party. What a time to be alive.

but yeah i mean i feel you we see where you were going with that also theres no such thing as a head editor its hilarious to me that everyone thinks were all young

15. “Dinner before 8:30 pm? Hahahha, yeah right.”

Your dinner reservations are probably made for 9:30 pm but you’ll get there at 10 and start eating 30 minutes later. They love the night life, and think us Americans are crazy for eating our dinner while the suns still out. I knew I wasn’t the only one.

Another Period laughing comedy central haha hahahaha

16. “For the American…. that’ll be $100 USD. Oh, and you’re a citizen? That’ll be $1 USD.”

On our last day in Punta Cana, Irina was trying to find us a reasonable price on a snorkeling/boat adventure. All I know is that there was a lot of Spanish and after awhile the guy she was talking to started laughing and the conversation was over. I asked what she said and she responded “I told him to stop giving me tourist prices”. Somehow we ended up getting on the boat for free? Who knows..

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And this is what I imagined I looked like to them. Go white girl. Go white girl.

So there you have it. It’s always fun reliving all of the little inside jokes you created while on your trip. It’s totally fine to act like a tourist. As long as you can laugh about it. Oh, and I got a GoPro for this trip. I think I’ve found a new hobby. Check out the montage I made highlighting what it’s like to have an amazing time in the Dominican Republic!

Cheers! xoxo, H

A Tribute to Michael Scott, The Boy Who Lived

For anyone who has lost a close friend unexpectedly, you understand. You understand the feeling you get every time you wonder onto their Facebook page for the 50th time just to convince yourself it’s not real. And to quickly remind yourself that it is. You understand the confusion, anger, sadness, and helplessness. You’ve asked yourself numerous times “but why him/her?!” It just doesn’t make sense. And as this week (one of the worst in my entire life I may add) is slowly coming to an end, I’m starting to realize that it will NEVER make sense. And that it’s okay to learn how to live with that.

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Dr. Michael Steven Scott was taken from us on August 3, 2015. That day will forever be a gloomy one for the rest of my life. Similar to how it was when Snape took Dumbledore’s life with his own wand. Yes, I just refrenced Harry Potter. You see, we would spend hours upon end discussing how much better life would be if we were at Hogwarts. And because of that, I will never read another J K Rowling masterpiece without thinking about my dear friend.

You know how they say “it’s the people you work with that make you either love or hate your job”. That was Michael for me. I met Michael during my first year here at Hunter Pharmacy Services. He too was a pharmacist. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore everyone I work with here. But Michael was the first one that really took me in. He treated me like a friend before he ever treated me like a coworker. In the beginning it was mostly him mentoring me on how to be a good pharmacist, telling me what the nurses really meant when they would ask bizarre questions, proofreading all of my interventions before sending them out to make sure I didn’t make an absolute fool of myself, shadowing me during my “vulnerable, scared shitless new pharmacist” period. As we grew closer he allowed me to take off the pharmacist training wheels and practice on my own. This was great because it allowed more time for us to talk about where we wanted to go for brunch, what type of prosecco made the best mimosas, the newest/hottest shows on neftlix, and of course our beloved friend Harry. Michael and I would even go to his favorite place (Hanabi) at lunch for bento boxes just to get away from the office and gossip. We loved to gossip. Quite honestly, the hardest part about losing him is that I don’t have him to talk to about losing him. If he were here he would totally get what I mean.

After the initial shock and confusion, I’ve had some time to sit down and reflect about everything that has happened this past week. I’ve decided that even though it will never be easy to accept the fact that he’s gone, he would want me to LEARN something from this. Because in case you didn’t know Michael very well, he was quite the scholar. He would want me to use this experience and allow it to transform me into a better person, pharmacist, and friend in some way. So this is what I’ve come up with thus far:

Life is too damn short. For all of us. Whether it be a loved one, a family member, a friend, or a stranger. Not a single damn day is promised for tomorrow. It matters not your health status, your financial status, nor your common sense or way of life. Shit happens and none of us will ever be prepared for the unknown. So with that being said, why not live every day like it’s your last?! Okay okay, I know. This has obviously been said before. But now I get it. Don’t get me wrong, I in no way believe that people should walk around living their lives in fear that the end is near. Absolutely not. But to live and love with your entire heart, without questioning your intentions or desires. To go after your dreams regardless of the circumstances or the set backs that may come out of it. To react to people the way you truly feel you should react, whether it be with kindness, bluntness, or even malice. Just BE YOU. Because regardless of what the haters may say, there are a lot of people that think the sun shines out of your ass whether you know it not. And you shouldn’t spend a single day not being you in order to please others. Be genuine and soak up all of your strengths and flaws. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your family. You owe it to the world to see how great you truly are. Michael was that way. He was going to tell you exactly how he felt whether you liked it or not. He was 100% Michael, 100% of the time. That is a rare quality in a person, and it is one that I will strive to gain from here on out.

Listen more, worry less. Since life is too damn short, take the time to really take it all in. Stop and smell the freshly printed paper (because that shit smells better than roses). Look away from your computer for a couple of minutes to engage in conversation. Find out when your coworkers birthdays are and plan to have goodies ready for them. Do office pranks. Rather than bitching at the fact that some doctor didn’t take your recommendation, laugh at the fact that he thinks so highly of himself. Focus on loving life more and all of it’s little details. And LISTEN. This one is especially important to me since I have ADHD and what not and SQUIRREL!

Set an example. This one is hard for me to talk about without having a full blown Schlitterbahn water park flow of tears. These last few days of reflection have made me realize that my next step from here is to be like Michael for someone else. To practice leadership through friendship. To do my duty as a friend, pharmacist, citizen by striving to mentor someone when they really need it the most. Even if that means through listening and/or offering your time to be a friend. We all have our shit. Hell, Michael surely had his. But that didn’t stop him from being a genuinely good guy and friend to me. He didn’t owe me anything, yet he really cared about my success. I hope that I can be half the friend and mentor for someone else one day that he was for me.

Snape was Michael’s favorite Harry Potter character, and Snape taught us that heroes can hide in the most unlikely of places. You were my hero Michael. In so many ways. I’m going to do my best to carry on your legacy of social chair here, and I couldn’t be more honored to follow in your footsteps. Because you know me. I solemnly swear that I will ALWAYS be up to no good. (Harry Potter reference for all you muggles out there).

❤ xoxo, HG

10 Life Lessons from Admiral William McRaven

With graduation approaching, I can’t stop thinking about how it’s only been a year since I walked across that stage and watched the world’s greatest fireworks show. With front row tickets I may add (go pharmacy!). The emotions are real you guys. It’s such an overwhelming time in your life. And believe me, your Forty Acres family will do everything in their power to tug at your heartstrings as much as possible.

Last year, Admiral William McRaven graciously agreed to give a commencement address at our university wide graduation ceremony. It had been 37 years since he had been in our shoes as a new UT graduate. He began his speech by talking about our slogan here at UT: “what start’s here changes the world“. Through his experiences in the military and basic Navy Seal training, he was able to formulate 10 key points to help us change the world.

“It matters not whether you ever serve a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your sexual orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar. And the lessons to overcome those struggles, and to move forward, changing ourselves and changing the world around us, will apply equally to all”.

Now bear with me. This isn’t one of those short Buzzfeed-like blogs. I decided to take a deeper perspective when writing for you guys this time around, because I think this one is important. I encourage you to read through to the end. And I hope that if anything, you are left with some courage and confidence for what your future holds.

1.IIf you want to change the world start off by making your bed

Every morning during training, the instructors would come into his room and inspect his bed. It was a requirement that they make their bed to perfection. Even though it felt ridiculous at first that such a mundane task was of the utmost importance, Admiral McRaven learned how critical it was. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have achieved the first task of the day”. Not only will it give you a sense of pride and encourage you to do other tasks, but it will also reinforce that the little things in life matter. Seems easy right? I personally believe that his message is in holding yourself accountable. It’s more than just tucking in your sheets every morning.

“And if all else fails, you will come home at the end of the day to a bed that is made.”

2. If you want to change the world find someone to help you paddle

Divided into groups, his class would struggle to paddle through the surf during the worst of the weather. Every paddle that was made was to be synchronized, with each member exerting equal effort. If they didn’t paddle in unison, they wouldn’t make their destination. “You can’t change the world alone. You will need some help. And to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the goodwill of strangers, and a strong coxswain to guide you”.

Yes, it is OKAY to allow yourself to confide in others. The most successful didn’t get where they are today on their own.

3. If you want to change the world measure a person by the size of their heart, not by the size of their flippers

Admiral McRaven talked about how there was a boat crew of “little guys”, which they called the Munchkin Crew. No one was over 5’5”. All of them of different racial and cultural backgrounds. The taller guys would always make fun of the little flippers the Munchkin Crew had on their feet. However, the little guys would always out-run and out-swim the rest of the crews. “Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education, not your social status.”

We are all one in the same. My size of my flippers is a reflection of my anatomy, not of who I am inside.

4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward

Several times a week the crew would get uniform inspection. Just like making the bed, the standards were unbelievably high. No matter how polished your belt buckle nor how starched your uniform, it was never enough. If inspection was failed, the students had to run fully clothed to the surf zone, and while wet, roll around on the beach until every part of their bodies was covered in sand. This effect was called the “sugar cookie”. Some students struggled with the fact that the instructors were never going to let them succeed. They couldn’t accept that their uniform would never be perfect. Those students didn’t make it through training. “Sometimes no matter how well you prepare, or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes.”

Yeah, not those kind of sugar cookies.

5. If you want to change the world don’t be afraid of the circuses

As one would assume, training was consumed with daily physical events. Long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, etc. If your times were not met, your name was posted on a list. At the end of the day, every name that was posted on the list was invited to a “circus”. An additional 2 hours of hard work formulated to test your mind, break you down, and make you want to quit. It was inevitable. At some point during training, every student would make the circus list. But see, for those that were constantly on the list, they got stronger. “Life is full of circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

But you can be afraid of clowns. Because clowns are creepy.

6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first

During training all of the students were required to complete a 25 piece obstacle course. The most challenging obstacle was the “slide for life”. Combined with a 3-tiered 30 foot tower and a 200 foot long rope, the record for best time had been untouched for years. Until one of Admiral McRaven’s class members went down head first. It seemed dangerous, foolish, and put the student at risk for injury. Nonetheless, he braved the challenge and cut the record time by half.

And you know how us Longhorns are. We like to be the best.

7. If you want to change the world don’t back down from the sharks

Part of their time at camp was spent on San Clemente Island, where the waters served as breeding grounds for great white sharks. Long swims were required to pass training, including night swims. As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, the instructors made it a point to educate them on the all the different species of sharks right before their journey. They would reassure that no student has ever been eaten by one. Or at least, not to their knowledge. They were told to “stand your ground” if a shark appeared to start circling your position. To not swim away or act afraid. “There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim, you will have to deal with them.”

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

8. If you want to change the world be your very best in the darkest moment

Navy Seals have a job to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. To practice, during training they would be dropped off outside an enemy harbor and swim over 2 miles underwater using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target. There is always SOME light that comes through throughout the swim. But when approaching the ship, the light begins to fade. The Seal divers are expected to swim under the ship and find the “keel”, the centerline of the ship. The darkest part of the ship. Where you can be easily disoriented. Where you can fail. Every Seal knows that this is a time when you need to be calm. When you must be calm. And composed. “When all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.”

You will never regret being the one who was calm and collected during moments of crisis.

9. If you want to change the world start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud

“Hell Week” started the ninth week of training. Six days of no sleep, continuous physical and mental harassment, followed by a day at the Mud Flats. A swampy patch of land where the mud can literally eat you alive. The students were expected to spend 15 hours in the freezing cold as the instructors persistently pushed each member to quit. As his team was engulfed in mud, they were told that they could leave if only five men would quit. With eight hours to go. Through chattering teeth, one voice began to sing. One voice became two, and then two become three. Before long, everyone in the class was singing. Admiral McRaven remembers thinking that the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer, and the ending closer. “If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person. A Washington, a Lincoln, King, Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala. One person can change the world by giving people hope.”

Even if you’re off-key, sing to those in need. So that they may find hope.

10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell 

In training there is a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound. All you had to do to quit camp was ring the bell. And you no longer have to wake up at 5 am. No longer have to swim in the freezing water. No longer have to do the obstacle courses. No longer have to endure the hardships of training. “All you had to do was ring the bell to get out. If you want to change the world, don’t ever, EVER, ring the bell.”

So there you have it. Ten simple tasks that, if executed appropriately, can change everything in your life from this point forward. Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when times are the toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never ever give up. If you do these things, the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.

I re-watched this speech for weeks following graduation. Call me corny, but it really had an effect on me. Here was a man whom has accomplished so much in his life, achieving goals most of us can only dream of. Yet his advice is simple. It focuses on how one’s ability to be able to change the world resides in their character. Their humbleness. Their will to selflessly act for the greater good. I think it is important that we remember how vital the little things in life really are. We all have different goals. Whether your goal is to be a business owner, a housewife, or the future president. Never forget how far the little things can get you. To say that this graduation day speech changed the way I viewed my future is an understatement. I hope this year’s commencement ceremony has a similar effect on you.

Congratulations to the class of 2015! You’ve been given the building blocks for ways to change the world during your days spent here on campus. Now is the time to put what you’ve been taught to use. And as you go forward as an alumnus, never forget to give back to future Longhorns, in return for what others have given to you.

Hook’em forever! \m/

-Hayley Gail

18 times El Arroyo made you literally laugh out loud

OK. Why don’t more people talk about how awesome the El Arroyo marquee is?! Have you ever driven by it without doing a double take?! Exactly. Those people sure as hell know what they are doing. I am determined to find the mastermind behind this glorious piece of art.

1. The time they laid out what it’s like to be an Austinite

2. The time they put all the health nuts on blast

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But seriously. Do you have 13.1 or 26.2 on the back of your car

3. When they reminded everyone how much OU sucks

Not like we need a reminder, but it’s still funny

4. The time they had nothing to talk about so they went the bilingual route

5.  Or when they helped Keep Austin Weird

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6. The time they proved how real the struggle can be for those sneaky Facebook tags

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Come on ladies. There’s privacy settings for that.

7. The time they reminded everyone that they are often times late and really good at math

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Don’t lie. I know I’m not the only one!

8. When they tried to distract determined Yogis with Tex Mex

Hey man, that’s just being a Good Samaritan.

9. Or when they are just really clever

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10. How about that one time Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce?! Yeahhhh… we see you all the way down here in Texas, J

#teamB

11. The time they used reverse psychology on all you Snapchat addicts

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12. And then reassured everyone that the iPhone and queso mix really well together

And yes, they have Wifi

13. That one time they were trying to act all nostalgic

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Nameste on my red circle, bitches.

14. Or that one sign because, you know… Texas and weather don’t go well together

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smh

15. The time they tried to keep the animals from starving

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I mean you can’t lie, that’s pretty damn funny

16. More rivalry shit talkin’

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17. When they announced that it was officially Fall

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18. Or when they confessed that they too care about how many FB likes they get

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Gotta keep that social media game strong

I literally take the long way to work so that I can drive by this damn sign everyday. It honestly makes me stop worrying about how late I am, or how shitty my hair looks, or how much I already hate what I’m going to have for lunch. It’s my little “that shit is so funny that I can’t even” time that I get every morning. Bobby Bones is hilarious, don’t get me wrong. But no one keeps it more REAL than the El Arroyo sign. Except maybe NeNe Leakes.

Cheers!

xoxo, H

18 things that suddenly become important for every girl in her mid to late 20’s

As a lady transitions into her later 20’s, her age isn’t the only thing that changes. Her priorities adjust as well. One day the only thing that seems to matter may be bottle service, and the next day it’s botox. The saying “you’re becoming a woman” makes more sense now than it did when we got it constantly thrown at us through that god awful puberty stage. I truly believe aging gracefully can feel like a full time job. But thankfully, us girls have each other to joke with as it happens.

So I decided to put a list together (go figure, right?!). Highlighting the things that every girl in her mid to late 20’s begins to care about during this time time in her life. Ladies, do you feel me on this one?!

1. Brunch

Call me cliche, but a good Sunday brunch gets every girl in her happy place. Why has it taken me so long to figure out the magic of what a carafe of mimosas and french toast can do!? Was it because I was often hungover in my early 20’s? Or just broke? Maybe I should start a Sunday Funday fund, because a nice refreshing brunch is just too good for any of you to miss out on, ladies.

2. Credit score

Five years ago the only thing I could have told you about my credit score was that it existed. And now I have this lingering number staring at me in the face, dictating some of my biggest life purchases and decisions. What is this, George Orwell’s 1984 theory?! Giving us all some arbitrary number. Please don’t hold my irresponsible college days against me foreverrrrrr.

3. Quality time spent with friends/loved ones

By about 25, I think it’s safe to say that most girls have filtered out the acquaintances. Don’t get me wrong. I love to run into an old friend that I haven’t seen in years. But the days of “dude we totally have to bring that one girl because she knows all of the hook-ups” are long gone. I’m talking full blown, tipsy on Deep Eddy grapefruit vodka, laughing until the mascara starts running, making fun of who your friends dated in high school, type of quality time. I live for that shit.

4. Benefits

Because there is nothing I would rather talk about than 401K’s, health insurance, and disability. Yeah freaking right. I would rather eat cold ramen than discuss all things responsible. However, it is nice when you know that if something happened to you, SOMEONE would care enough to pull you out of it. Finances are alright, I guess.

5. Good TV shows

Netflix, Hulu, HBO. Hell, even Top Chef has me committed in a way that is probably considered unhealthy. Who else are you gonna eat dinner with on a Monday night? Plus, your TV shows encourage you to stay home and wear pajamas. And you’re only getting older, so you wouldn’t want to miss out on that.

6. Healthy-looking skin

If your energy level doesn’t remind you of the fact that you’re aging, your skip will help by drawing distinct lines in places all over your face. Thanks mother nature, you SOB. The closer I get to 30, the more valuable face masks and spa treatments become. No one is ever going to argue with “it’s great for my skin”. We can’t all be Brooke freaking Shields.

7. Anything DIY

Whether it be to save money, or to work on perfecting those domestic lady ways. Pinterest has begun to feel like a distant relative, the older I get. Nobody hates the bitch that gives homemade rose salve and photograph coasters for Christmas.

8. Vacation and weekends

Time off is SACRED. While it’s all very nice to transition into adulthood and the wonders of work life, it can be way too overwhelming sometimes. That’s why every girl needs a cute little agenda, to mark all upcoming events using pens of varying colors. You know, to always have something to look forward to it. Don’t lie ladies.

9. Chemistry in a relationship

I think most girls would agree that they have figured out what they are really looking for in a relationship by the time they hit their mid to late 20’s. All of the materialistic things don’t seem to matter as much anymore. Yeah, it may be cool if he drives a Range Rover. But if he can’t spend time with me without judging the fact that I like to use cheetos to make a walrus face, then honestly what’s the point?!

10. A good cry

A good, ugly ass cry. One of those cries that you end up counting as your work out of the day. Don’t hold it in, y’all. The struggle is real, and sometimes the best thing to do is cry about it.

11. Your routine

Practice makes perfect. There’s a reason that book club is always on Tuesday nights. And there’s a reason that rent is due the 1st of every month. There is most definitely a reason every girl acts bat shit crazy the week she gets called in for jury duty. Don’t intrude on my daily regimen. My inner Kate Spade lady feelings might take things a little personal.

12. Self discipline when it comes to diet and exercise

Jillian Michaels is a freak of nature. Of course we all want to look that good. And some of us might even end up looking that good. But it sure as hell is not going to happen overnight. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Withdrawals from pizza. I think that’s why the Instagram gods have given us those few friends that document every accomplished pound loss. For constant motivation, of course.

13. Standards

Because you are now old enough to know how important it is to have self-respect. Sure, you may have days where you feel like scum at the bottom of the ocean. But you’re in this little thing called life whether you like it or not, so you might as well be your biggest advocate. From relationships. To being treated equally at work. To only accepting friend requests from people who will actually entertain your news feed. Keep that shit 100. Not only with yourself, but everyone else.

14. Random dance parties

Because life. This is obvious, am I wrong?!

15. Good parking situations

Valet. Uber. Or even just parking that is really close to where you are going. I’m not trying to get in a hike before dinner. Momma can only wear these stilettos for so long.

16. Beauty sleep

It takes a lot to look this good. Also, pants are not required while you’re sleeping. And naps have hands down been the most underrated pastime since Kindergarten.

17. Knowing which alcoholic drinks will get you “sophisticated drunk”

One that gets the job done with no consequences. Now that the days of “let’s get stupid and drunk eat an entire pizza” are over, ones choice of drink is very important. Am I wrong?! You know. Like you can have a shot or two, but not after midnight. And it’s okay if you want to drink vodka, but do so with tonic or soda, not Dr. Pepper. Oh, and not the cheapest vodka they’ve got.

18. Understanding what Amy Poehler was getting at when she said “There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do”

Because we don’t have to worry about impressing Regina George anymore. You are who you are. You’ve made it this far, so it’s pretty safe to say that most of your best and worst traits won’t change much. But that’s what makes you memorable. So twerk if you want to. Overreact if you want to. Complain about your age if you want to. As long as you lay your head on your pillow every night knowing that you are as much a hott mess as the next girl, we’re all better off.

Do your thang ladies!

xoxo, H

13 Everyday Struggles for People Who Have No Filter

If you haven’t guessed yet, I have been given the gift of having absolutely no filter. You know the little voice in your head that holds onto the thoughts that just don’t need to be spoken? Yeah, some of us unfortunately don’t have that. To be completely honest, the quality is just as much love as it is hate. The most frustrating thing for someone with no filter is when friends and family take your anomaly personal. It makes you feel awful. I can’t help it that the truth hurts, and I infrequently carry band-aids. I can tell you one thing, I am not the type of person you should put on speaker phone.

I hope I can relate with all you other overly honest folk, as I lay out the 13 everyday struggles for people who have no filter. For the rest of you, my best piece of advice: STOP TAKING IT PERSONAL.

1. Trying to figure out if people are laughing at you or with you

When you say something blatantly honest, and also funny, and you start to realize that everyone else may be really laughing at how straightforward you are. For whatever reason the fact that you voiced what the rest of the group was thinking is more hilarious than the actual information. And so you shall remain known as THAT outspoken friend. Sorry friends, too much!?

2.Having to remember that TMI is a real thing that should be avoided at all costs

If you ask me what I did last night, don’t be surprised if you get the honest truth. No I didn’t go to yoga and dinner with the girls. I actually spent the night unclogging my shower drain with one hand, and holding a glass of red wine in the other.

3. Fearing that others are judging

Oh, wait. We stopped caring about that a long time ago, didn’t we?!

4. Your friends always saying that you have the “best advice”

Because only the bestest of friends know the answers to all of your problems. And they magically know the best approach. But you would be surprised to find out that all humans can do this, if they wanted to. Somehow I just always happen to be the one to tell you that you should slow it down on your T Swift adventures, and just focus on yourself for a while. You know what they say. It’s either gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames. As your friend, I find it best that you are better off prepared.

5. Not holding back in arguments

There are no pre-confrontation layouts or game plans. There are no fronts. There are no fake resolutions or compromises. With no filter, I’m mostly likely going to tell you exactly how I feel. There’s a difference between being mature about the situation and being merely up front, people. I’m not going to play the game and see how you react to what I have to say or vice versa. Stubborn or not, I’ll let you know if I feel like I’m right and you’re wrong. But let’s be honest. Is that even a question?

6. Being a terrible liar

Being fake isn’t an option for our type. I guess it’s a good thing since I typically can’t stand fake people. A little white lie was never a common occurrence in my household growing up. Option 1) avoid the situation. Option 2) surrender and spill the good ol’ truth.

7. Coming across as arrogant instead of just blatantly honest

Believe me, I agree that some things are just better left unsaid. By all means, if I knew how to draw a fine line I totally would. It’s not that we think we know everything. It’s not even that we really care all that much. It basically comes down to the fact that we would rather get rid of the elephant in the room, lay out all the facts, and save ourselves from having to put on a blank persona.

8. Asking embarrassing questions instead of just keeping our mouths shut 

“Wait I don’t get it. Why are you so mad, again?”Don’t get me wrong, I kill at a Charades game. But I’ve never been good at fake laughing and smiling with everyone else, if I have NO idea what’s going on. You won’t see us texting our friends about how we think our other friend finds us annoying. A straight up “have I been annoying to you lately?” text will suffice. As if they would answer honestly anyways. No hurt feelings bro.

9. INTERVIEWS

While I think people with no filter are usually good at rocking an interview, it’s still overwhelming. That “did I really just talk about how I love The Millionaire Matchmaker” feeling after walking out. Hey, at least they know what they are getting themselves into from the get go. I will never forget the moment I straight up told the guy interviewing me that I had come to realize that their company probably wasn’t the best fit for me. Just thought I would save him some time. Ain’t nobody trying to actually work there anyways. I just typed a soft joke about the company I’m referring to, then realized it was probably better to go the professional route and keep quiet. The struggle is always real, y’all. Word vomit should be a verb in the dictionary, in my opinion.

10. First impressions

Before a new friend realizes that your honesty is just who you are. When they are straddling the “either close friends or acquaintance that I end up avoiding” line. Before they realize that you are just the Zoey Deschanel “New Girl” version, holding the whole group together with truthfulness. You should be worried if I DON’T tell you that your outfit makes you look like the college freshman version of you.

11. Feeling guilty for what you say 

It’s not our fault that no one else had the balls to say what everyone was thinking. And just because I did, I’m not “sensitive” enough? Okkkkk. We all thought you needed to pull your weight and clean the apartment, I was just the only one willing to risk our relationship to avoid the bug people coming back. But I end up being the one to blame.You know what they say. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. While this is sometimes true, sometimes I believe it’s best to say it anyways when you don’t have anything nice to say. There are times when the bitch just needs to hear the truth.

12. Being mistaken as “too opinionated” 

This is not an opinion, this is the truth. The truth because of a collection of all of our opinions. The only difference between you and me, is that you share your opinions with your brain cells, and I share them with the rest of the world.

13. Being as surprised as everyone else by what comes out of your mouth 

Word vomit, yet again. Let’s just all laugh and act surprised over the shit that just fell out of my mouth. I may have you fooled, but I am just as surprised as you are that I accidentally revealed how I thought the girl standing in the street has an identical ass of Nikki Minaj’s. Loud enough for her to hear. It’s a COMPLIMENT, I swear! Oh well, it was worth a shot.

Friends with no filter are a valuable asset, in my opinion. When you want the honest truth you know exactly who to turn to. Because let’s be honest, we don’t usually sugar coat. Do I look like Willy Wonka?!

#nofilter

*Cheers*

xoxo, H

15 Resolutions for The Average Quarter-Century Chick

Alright, ladies. It’s that time of the year again. The time where everyone makes up some cliché, unrealistic, boring ass resolution, and posts about it on Facebook. Per the usual, I wanted to do things differently. I thought to myself, “Why not make a list of resolutions that are actually relatable and worth trying?!” Of course if you want to join in on the army of NY Resolution treadmill-runners, by all means, do your thing. But if you want to take a different, more fun approach into the new year, keep on reading.

15 Resolutions for The Average Quarter-Century Chick 

1. Step up the cell phone etiquette

This may not apply to all of you, but I am the absolute WORSE with my phone. Especially when it comes to texting. And don’t even think about calling me when I’m in the car listening to music. I’m gonna go ahead and lie when I say I do it to keep you all on your toes. Nope, that’s bullshit. I’m just lazy as hell. But in 2015, I vow to be that loyal friend that responds ASAP.

2. Refrain from the daily glass of wine

A glass a day keeps the doctor away. That’s my motto. Okay, Okay. I guess every day is the opposite of “in moderation”. I blame it on the American Heart Association for merely including the word wine in the guidelines. Merlot and I go way back, but I’m hoping to give myself a little space from him in the new year.

3. Learn how to master “cheat day”

I guess it should be “cheat days”, as I usually abandon my healthy diet the entire weekend. Hey, I’m working on it. While Sunday brunch is basically an American holiday, there are still so many opportunities to take full advantage on your cheat days. Try out the restaurant you have been “dying” to go to for the past year. Or hell, satisfy that dirty chinese craving that you get throughout the week. Life is too damn short to not give food love the way it gives love to you. I don’t care if it’s f***ing McDonalds. As long as you go HAM with zero regrets. I don’t know why I didn’t make this one #1, seeing as it is the resolution I’m obviously most excited about.

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4. Step away from social media every now and then

While yes, it is very entertaining, it’s also kind of depressing and nauseating. Anyone else feel like they are losing brain cells by reading Facebook posts and statuses? Some days I think I might climb a cactus if I hear one more first world problem.

5. Stop going to bed with makeup on

Yes mom, I know you taught me this one. Anybody else have those nights where you’re literally counting the steps you have left before making it to the bed? And you somehow justify not having to take off your makeup until the morning. Yeah, this is going to be the year that STOPS. I’m shooting for 5 stars at my next dermatologist appointment.

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6. Stop worrying about getting married

For those of us still unwed. Sometimes it feels like constant pressure surrounds us with people getting engaged/married. And you find yourself annoyed or jealous rather than happy for your friends. “OMG even SHE’S engaged?!” Girls don’t lie. We all do it. Let’s remember how we are all at different points in our lives, and that we all want different things! And that the time will come for us too. The reason it hasn’t come yet is because we aren’t ready. But let me tell you what. When that times does come, home dude better put a sick ass ring on it. Am I wrong?!

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7. Embrace the fact that your personality is what makes you sexy

We do everything we can for the perfect ass, the flawless skin, the hottest tan. But let’s be honest. If that’s all you have to attract a guy/girl, you’re no different from those awful Instagram wanna-be models. People remember you by the way you laugh. Or by your witty comments. Hey, maybe you’re weird as hell like I am, and that’s what people remember about you. Point is, it’s who you are that makes you a f***ing catch. And that’s what I’m going to focus on this year.

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8. Travel somewhere once a month

Doesn’t have to be paradise or Vegas. It can just be taking a trip to Dallas or Houston to visit some friends you haven’t seen in a while. You know that friend has fallen off the map and lost touch with everyone? Let’s take a vow to not be that friend! Plus, we all need an excuse to get the hell out sometimes.

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9. Learn to laugh rather than cry over criticism

I’m not talking about constructive “this is really good but you could improve it by doing this” criticism. I’m talking full-blown, “that sweater is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen” criticism. After reading “it’s lists like this that make me want to go kill myself” and “take a ride on the bus you whiney bitch” on one of my blogs that went viral, I decided it was time to not give a damn what people have to say about me. The more people hate on you for no reason at all, the more you should realize that you’re doing something right. Don’t hate me cuz I’m beautiful, boo.

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10. Listen to your FOMO

In my opinion, the more you age, the less you have FOMO. The internal bitch fights that I would have every time I couldn’t go out during college due to studying are slowly fading away. HOWEVER, I think it’s important now to notice when you are having FOMO, and listen! Maybe you really should sacrifice a night of Netflix to go out with some drinks with your friends. Stop trying to justify why you shouldn’t, just go. You know how they say to listen to your gut feeling. And if your gut feeling is that you wouldn’t mind trading in your pajamas for some pleather leggings, you better act on it. The body wants what the body wants. When the body wants a tequila shot, who are you to keep it from having one?!

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11. Exercise for your body, not your figure

Hey girl, not to say that you shouldn’t do everything in your power to enhance all of the assets during bikini season. By all means, of course you should. My life goal is to one day get the Beyoncé legs. But rather than set a goal to lose 10 pounds or 5% body fat,why not shoot for a goal of feeling good. Feeling healthy. If that comes at the price of losing 10 pounds, great! Just try to focus on the healthy part of it, rather than the size 2 skinny part of it.

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12. Rather than wait for the hopeless romantic, BE the hopeless romantic

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s safe to say that most girls want someone who thrives on being a hopeless romantic. I’ve probably sent more clues to my boyfriend than Steve on f***ing Blue Clues about this one. All the while, I realize that I’m just begging for it, rather than trying to be more romantic myself. So this year I’m going to try harder to let it start with me. If he loves you, he will catch the hint and return the favor. Life is too damn short to not have irresistible chemistry, great sex, and a relationship full of surprises.

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13. Remember how cool your parents really are

They really are if you sit back and think about it. I mean you are a combination of them so clearly they are perfect. No, but seriously. As we get older our parents are also getting older. This year I plan on working hard at my relationship with my parents. Cutting out the lazy shit, and giving them a phone call more than once every couple of days. Plus, no one understands my weird ass ways as well as Mom and Dad.

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14. Come from a place of “yes”

One of the best books I have ever read was by Bethenny Frankel titled “A Place of Yes”. It’s basically about her crazy life circa pre-Skinnygirl days. She says she knows what it’s like to doubt herself and feel out of control, but she also figured out how to conquer the noise in her head that holds her back. She basically lays out 10 simple rules for how to get unstuck, move forward, and get everything you want out of life. No this is not an ad for her book. I’m just really obsessed with the bitch. In a nutshell, go for the gold. Don’t second guess something that feels right to the core. Try new things, because maybe there’s a hidden part of you that you are yet to reveal. Live a “yes” life. Not a “I’ll try it tomorrow” life.

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15. Make sure to ALWAYS have a bottle of champagne in the fridge

This one is a must. If I’ve learned anything in this life so far, it is how important it is to keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. And sometimes that special occasion is that there is a bottle of champagne in the fridge.

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Here’s to 2015! May the odds be ever in your favor.

*Cheers*

xoxo, H

Life After the 40 Acres: How to Make a Longhorn Homesick

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Recently I have been having some major withdrawals from my former life as a UT student. You would think that after 7 years I wouldn’t miss this place one bit. But I guess we all have those loser moments in life, where we find ourselves just trying to live in the past. Separation anxiety is real y’all. I’m working on it though.

Not to brag or anything, but UT Austin really is one of the most memorable places to spend your college years. Academics and sports aside, the 40 acres really has created a community of expression, tradition, and pride. Ask any former Longhorn. Most of us would tell you that UT campus will always feel like home. A nostalgic place full of memories and accomplishment.Yes, there are many things about “college” that I think we all miss. But for me, it’s the little things about the 40 acres that get me. The weird ass traditions and rituals that turned into normal daily encounters for us. Of course I’m proud of everything I achieved as a student there. But I’ve realized more and more how the little things from my college experience have shaped me into the crazy, yet successful, person I am today.

So yes, you’ve guessed it. I’ve decided to accumulate a list of things that get me all nostalgic, and missing that Longhorn lifestyle. For all you haters that did the honor of letting me know that you “hate bitches like this that make lists like Buzzfeed”, this is your cue to leave. It’s not my fault that you have no sense of humor, and can’t appreciate the fact that lists are much easier to read than a novel. And I’m all about EASE and HUMOR. So bye 🙂

Presenting, “Life After the 40 Acres: How to Make a Longhorn Homesick”

Turtle Pond 

Because I guess a fountain wouldn’t be “different” enough. I really do miss these little guys. I’ll never forget the time I was late to class (and missed a quiz, sorry mom) after rescuing one of the turtles that aimlessly made its way into the middle of the street. I got your back Frederick.

Late night hours at FAC/SSB

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I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard, smelt as bad, or cried as much as I did in those two buildings. You knew shit was about to get real every time you saw someone walk into the FAC or SSB wearing sweats and carrying food at midnight. The home of my first all-nighter. The go-to place for social hour. I may have never actually learned anything at those places, but I sure did make a lot of friendships.

Life Sciences Library 

The place to go when you actually have your shit together, and have actually started studying more than 48 hours before your test. The serene sactionary.The most beautiful library I’ve ever seen. OK fine. I usually only went there because it made me feel like I was at Hogwarts. When I wanted to bring out my inner Hermione Granger.

A girl can dream right?

Albino Squirrels

Our own species of squirrels. Because that’s totally normal. Anyone remember when one of the squirrels in the family (yes, there is a family) died and they held a ceremony for it? Only at UT. Only at UT. Note to all current students: these bad boys are next to impossible to find outside of campus. Cherish your days with the squirrels.

Texas Football (Student Section version)

OK, obviously no true UT alum lessens their Longhorn football pride. No matter where they are in life. But even your best tailgate as an alumnus has NOTHING on being a student during football season. I swear Saturdays were treated like holidays. And let’s be honest. I think I might have a heart attack if I sat in the student section these days.

Taking naps on the Six Pack lawn 

Our very own miniscule wanna-be Central Park. No but seriously. Laying on the grass in the Six Pack gives you such a beautiful view. Lay facing North, you see the tower. Lay facing South, you see the Capitol. Soak in that Austin breeze. Or should I say get drenched in the humidity? Either way, life is always perfect whilst spent on the Six Pack lawn.

Going out on a Thursday night

I apologize to my liver for the day I made the decision to join in on the “weekends really start on Thursday in college” theory. How we all survived going to school only a few blocks away from the dirty dirty, I will never know. The day the guy working nights at Taco Cabana called me by my first name, was the day I decided it was time to make changes in my life. I blame it on that Dobie lifestyle.

Bevo Bucks budgeting 

Those damn Bevo Bucks. The first sense of budgeting as a college student. I don’t know if you can even call it. I think most of my Bevo Bucks went to Red Bull, coffee, and Frosty’s. Eating real food was a privilege. It wasn’t until I got turned away at the movie theater, that I realized that this was a lot like Monopoly money. NOT REAL.

After hours Kerbey queso

It only counts if it’s midnight or later. Kerbey Lane attracts a different type of crowd late night. People like me that can only force myself to study if there is a bowl of diabetes sitting in front me, cheering me on.

Power walking across campus 

It should be against university policy to allow a student to sign up for a class on opposites sides of the 40 acres back to back. One semester I had 10 minutes to get from UTC to CPE. After bitching and moaning for weeks, I finally figured it out. But then I tore my ACL, and was using crutches to walk. I think I asked for a Segway for Christmas that year.

Junior “The Wendy’s Guy”

Junior, my man! Our university may have had Bevo as a mascot, but the Union had Junior. I remember asking him how and why he got so fast at ringing up orders at Wendy’s. He responded with “I always tell myself that, no matter what I’m doing, I should challenge myself to be the best at it”. Class act. After leaving UT, Junior had a couple hard years of being homeless. Last I heard, he had moved into short-term housing after a UT alumnus helped raise $30,000. Hook ’em!

The tower bell songs

Tom Anderson, you play beautiful music. The best part is when you get thrown off by a not so traditional song on the way to class. Yes, that was a Lady Gaga song.

Starbucks/Chipotle/Chik fil A runs to avoid studying

The joys of being close to the Drag. If your friends didn’t distract you, the never-ending options to choose from for dinner did. You call it being in denial. I call it coping.

People watching

Not a f***ing dull moment. Whether it’s catching a flash mob, or witnessing a mid-day bicycle clash on Speedway in between classes. There’s always something interesting to see. If you didn’t see it, you are guaranteed to find it on social media.

Yes, that is a bunch of students holding up fake swords on May 4th in honor of Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you all.

PCL 5th floor

The pictures say it all. You’re only lying to yourself if you think you are going to the 5th floor to actually study. You will totally learn all the answers to life, you just may not come out knowing the answers on the test.

2 for $1 Double Dave’s pizza rolls on Tuesdays

Need I say more?

Signing up your friends to listservs for organizations in order to get free stuff 

Because that’s what real friends do. Those people take tabling SERIOUSLY in the West Mall. Not only did I get free shit and paraphernalia, but I get to enjoy watching you freak out once you realize that you are signed up to rush for that one frat/sorority you can’t stand. Jokes on you, bro.

FA bus

The Forty Acres bus may single-handedly be the least consistent piece of operation that I have ever come across. Nonetheless, you’re always bound to run into someone you know while riding. And possibly meet a new friend. Especially on rainy days, when people would rather be smothered in a strangers body odor than get a little wet.

The smells of SCIENCE coming from Welch 

Or maybe the smell of fear. Or the feel of realization when your professor addresses a room of 500 eager students with “Look to your right. Look to left. Only 1 of you will pass this class. Not everyone can be a doctor.” On the first day of class, mind you. No bullshitting around, huh!? Thankfully my Ochem TA thought I was cute, and didn’t make me pay for the entire distillation apparatus that I broke. Oh yeah. Timmmmberrrrr.

Monthly test alarms that always happened on Wednesday

I mean honestly. Is that really necessary? Anybody else mistake the 2012 bomb threat for a practice test? The best thing that came out of those alarms, was the fact that they helped me stay awake.

Those little UT tower water bottles

Cute, aren’t they?! Corny? Maybe. Awesome? 100%.

So there you have it. The little things about UT campus life that make me miss it every now and then. Don’t get me wrong. There isn’t an amount that you could pay me to power through another all-nighter. But to live a day in the life of a poor, malnourished, UT college student, trying to find a purpose in life through all of the interesting distractions in this weird ass place. That shit I would do for free.

Hook ’em baby!

*Cheers*

H