Should I Eat This? Top Tips for Staying Healthy Abroad

*You can view the original article on GivingWay’s website.

We often see amazing photos of unusual foods from other countries and read other travelers’ and volunteers’ stories regaling us with tales of the delicacies they tried. However, we also have heard of some really awful nights spent in the hostel bathroom after an unfortunate turn at the table. No one wants to miss out on an incredible experience, but where do we draw the line? And how to we avoid being out of commission due to food poisoning or other unfortunate related illnesses?

Check out the top travel tips for staying healthy abroad:

  • Ask your host family, hostel, or other travellers about the water. In some countries such as Switzerland, you can drink straight out of the public fountains! But other countries’ water supplies may generally upset sensitive stomachs, even for brushing one’s teeth. Instead of purchasing inordinate quantities of bottled water, however, try for a straw or water bottle filter. You can find these online for under 20 USD$. You’ll save money, keep the tummy happy, and be environmentally conscious at the same time!
  • Talk to your doctor or local pharmacist for some really helpful medications for typical upset stomach and digestion issues. Also, a daily probiotic and multivitamin will go a long way. It’s worth the space in your bag to bring these along.
  • Meat and dairy are some of the biggest culprits for food poisoning. Yogurt or ice cream in one place will not be the same as in another. They are different in every country and can really upset your stomach, even if you’re used to eating the product at home. I would make a big exception in Italy, ALWAYS have gelato in Italy.Tips for eating when traveling abroad
  •  Fresh fruits and veggie salads get a bad reputation as well, so remember that foods with “skin” on them such as oranges, bananas, and melons are much safer since the skin protects from any water. Cooked veggies are always safer than their raw counterpart.
  • Make friends! The people that you meet may have some great food recommendations. And invite them to eat with you because you never know when you’ll meet a lifelong friend and make some amazing memories across the table.Tips for eating when traveling abroad
  • Know your limits, because the foods and drinks that are fine for locals may not sit as well with you. If you’re unused to type of beverages and other foods, just try a little at a time and see what happens. If whatever you’re trying is really, really good, come back the next day for the full experience!

But keep an open mind and take some risks! Don’t let worrying about what’s on your plate take away from your volunteer or travel experience. Getting sick can happen and that’s okay. Sometimes those times may actually make for some of the best stories!

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Let Your Little Light Shine

Somedays, or maybe most days, we all lack a little confidence. Maybe it doesn’t go more than skin deep, and we recognize that feeling as if we’re too fat, too skinny, too smart, too dumb, too short, too tall, too whatever, is just us getting caught up in that stupid, social bullsh!t. But, if I’m being honest, many times my lack of confidence goes a lot deeper than acne breakouts and bad hair days.

So in this (relatively) long post, we’re going to explore confidence a bit more. And that’s a pretty big topic so I’m narrowing it down to a specific context: our voices. YOUR voice. MY voice. You know, the thing I’m using to talk to you right now? That thing.

YOUR voice. MY voice. You know, the thing I’m using to talk to you right now? That thing.

A teacher once asked me once what makes a good class participant and student. How does someone get to a place where they are involved in the discussion? Is it intelligence? Determination? Teachability? While these are certainly important, they are not enough. How do teachers get their students to actually learn and contribute to a class? I think back to my middle school and high school classes and ask myself, what drove me to keep writing and keep trying in classes where I wasn’t the smartest or best or, hell, even understood what was going on? It boils down to one, very simple factor.

My teachers convinced me that I had something worth saying.

Let that sink in.

I was convinced that even if I was objectively wrong, my attempts at giving an answer, proposing a solution, or asking a question were good enough to verbalize potentially to complete strangers, or worse, people I knew.

What if we actually believed that our thoughts had value? What if we had enough confidence to say our thoughts and beliefs on a regular basis to people who may not understand or even want to hear us? 

Sure, you can accuse of me of the typical millennial with a load of BS that “everyone’s opinion matters,” but that’s not quite what I mean. What I am saying is, sometimes we get scared to speak out in class and in life’s conversations. We let a lot of those opportunities slip by us. It doesn’t seem important enough, intellectual enough, funny enough, smart enough. These are lies, and a lack of confidence that’s keeping an entire generation silent. Not only is it grossly limiting awesome ideas and our sense of shared community (because I’m pretty sure we’re all thinking what you’re about to say and then we’ll all realize how we’re not alone), but I believe it can negatively impact our own, personal self-confiance. How we feel about ourselves and our “value”. 

The duct tape over the mouth begins innocently enough. Someone gets a couple Bs and Cs on paper or two. The teacher corrects their answers and the other kids in the class laugh. They try to show their new experiment to their parents and are dismissed because the parents are busy. Sure, grades are important, knowing the right answers are important, and parents need a break, too. But that’s just the beginning because there are a million things in our lives that tend to beat us down. Without a whole lot of support to combat these things, the message that comes across is WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY OR DO IS NOT OF VALUE.

Without a whole lot of support to combat these things, the message that comes across is WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY OR DO IS NOT OF VALUE.

Someone tell me I’m not the only one who’s felt like that?

I was a good student in college. Not the smartest, but decent and put in the effort. I was that annoying kid who talked every class and enjoyed chatting with my professors before and after. I had no problem speaking up. But I only was at that place because in some of the formidable years of my life, I had a significant support-network of people (thank you parents and teachers!) telling me that what I said meant something. Was worth something. Wasn’t stupid. Often wrong, but not stupid. Sometimes we just need people to say, hey, what you are thinking and have to say isn’t dumb! Keep trying.

I could easily connect this to the importance of young adult literature, where the characters of the story say and do the things that youths are feeling, thus legitimizing their thoughts and actions, but let’s not go there today. (Maybe Danny will share his writing on that one!) Suffice to say, when voicing and expressing our thoughts and emotions is a roller coaster ride of uncertainty, the best way to set ourselves up in the future to be confident with our voice is to surround ourselves with people who validate our words.

This whole post is a long way of saying that wherever and whoever you are, your voice deserves to be heard. People and life can make us feel really bad about what we have to say, it can get us down, and make us feel like we shouldn’t or can’t express ourselves. But, hey, Danny and I are here so send us a message if you want. Start your own blog (maybe you hate ours anyways), find your own tribe, or just message someone you care about. To quote a well-known nursery rhyme, let your little light shine!

 

How to Be an Expert Museum Goer

We all know what it’s like. You’re underperforming in a class and you see, printed in minuscule font at the bottom of the now coffee smeared and tear stained syllabus, the option to go see a couple new exhibitions at the Met to boost your class grade. Or, you decide that a really sexy date would be coffee and taking him to the newest MoMA retrospective. Maybe you’re visiting a new city and feel like a little culture behind you would make for an even better selfie. But museums are intimidating places, filled with collections of the greatest minds’ work and infinite displays of those who think they are the greatest minds’ to ever critique them. I get it, and that’s why I’m here to write your go-to guide to staring and murmuring softly at that art like a pro.

  1. Bring as much luggage as possible, preferably backpacks that have as many pockets as possible, to fill with only partially closed containers of food and liquid. I recommend loose leaf salads with particularly potent vinaigrettes.
  2. If there is exemplary antiquated furniture from generations past, be sure to pretend that you’re reclining on all the chairs and divans because the museum management totally loves a good laugh to get a break from the monotony of the day and their otherwise dull existence.
  3. Rather than using door handles, simply push the glass doors open with your hands (preferably still sticky from your food and drink).
  4. Be loud. Very loud. Call up a friend to chat if you’ve gone by yourself. The louder you can talk about the art, the better you are at seeming like you know what you’re talking about.
  5. Ask the people sketching and drawing what art school they’re going to, if they’ve made very much money yet, and maybe sit down to give them a few pointers.
  6. Follow around the guided, prepaid tours, being sure to ask lots of questions that have already been answered, just in case the people in the back didn’t hear the first time.
  7. Carry with you at all times backpack leashes for children so that you can reattach them to their parents when they’ve escaped.
  8. Don’t follow the lines or queues, especially the ones for the special exhibitions for which you have to pay extra. Ignore those, everyone knows they’re just suggestions.
  9. Show up just before the closing time and play hide and seek with the guards responsible for ushering people out. They LOVE that.

Editor’s note: The Growing Ever Upwards blog, partners, and staff will not be held responsible for any possible legal action or physical ejections that may occur after following the advice above.

Making Laughter Out of Life or, How Much do Millennials not Give a $h!t?

I have a deck of transformational cards where each card uses a parable or story to highlight an empowering attribute. Lately, I’ve been picking at random one per day and meditating on it. This morning’s was “Laughter”. The parable was of the three laughing saints, who, no matter where they went, brought smiles to the people around them. In the market place, they turned greed into warm chuckles and manipulation into a shared, happy moment. Even in death, the saints had placed fireworks in their clothes so when they were burned on the traditional pyres, their funerals turned into a festivals of celebration.

What does this have to do with Millennial selfishness? First, I’d like to dismiss (yes, dismiss) this negative and rather unfair stereotype. Millennials are often seen as carefree, vain, and money-driven, but this is despite trillions of dollars of student debt, pressure to achieve monetary success in life amidst rising costs (including those for mental healthcare), and polarized political and social landscapes. Second, writing as one Millennial to others, I’d like to empower myself and others to break – BREAK THE CHAINS THAT BIND YOUUUU – just kidding, break free from the intense pressures we face.

My grandmother told me a couple years ago as I was sharing about some of my future college and career plans, shaking her head all the while, that she really felt bad for people my age because, “after school we easily had a job and didn’t have to worry about all of that stuff.” And it’s true.

And meanwhile, Millennials have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are the generation that is supposed to eradicate hunger, save the economy, and live on Mars. A bit of a double standard, perhaps? I’m not saying we won’t be able to accomplish all this, but the pressure to “be adults” certainly isn’t helping us get there. Ingenuity and creative solutions are spurred on by a positive outlook.

And meanwhile, we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are the generation that is supposed to eradicate poverty, save the economy, and live on Mars.

We’ve been tasked with immense humanitarian missions in the face of near infinite evidence of a world that far too frequently places greater value on earning money than on the people working for the money. We struggle under the weight of a slowly resurging economy, where even jobs in the “humanitarian/development” sector are doubtful that they help anyone (see the numerous critiques on the United Nations or Clinton Foundation), and that one uncle who always asks why on earth you’re getting a liberal arts degree.

Let’s go back to the parable.

I was convicted this morning of taking life way too seriously. Of giving too many shits. Of not being carefree ENOUGH. Why? Because when I start focusing on all the crap I just wrote above, I stop focusing on the positives. On the possibilities. On my potential.

Life can be a crippling series of challenging events. It can also be an empowering, safe place filled with relationships with wonderful people. These two options often happen simultaneously.

They say laughter is the best medicine. When we start getting well, start feeling better about ourselves, and start being a little more carefree, we are way better at solving life’s and the world’s biggest problems. Feeling guilty and entitled about our 21st century privilege (and other types of privilege) does not help reduce inequality and injustice.

Oh, and the Google search as the featured photo above? It’s real, and I googled it last week. #screenshot.

Planning for Success in 2017

What are you planning for 2017? Really, tell me everything. I think it’s more than you think.

I am finishing my undergraduate degree, including the completion of three research projects, completing graduate apps and entering a grad program, likely moving for that grad program, running my online business and hopefully expanding, running this blog consistently, and beginning wedding planning. On top of that, I want to restart a meditation routine and a workout schedule.

Most people my age seem to be doing just as much. We want to have it all, and we’ve spent a lot of energy believing we can shove it all into the day. Not only that, we need to do a hell of a lot of it to gain education, generate income, and pay loans.

How do you plan on keeping on top of it? You probably don’t. I know I plan on turning into a sobbing wreck and having multiple breakdowns from responsibility overload. But I sure do have a plan for getting it done. My method is via a planning method called bullet journaling.

What is a bullet journal?

If you have been on studyblr or in planning communities, you have probably heard of bullet journaling. The BuJo community has become a little cult of its own and I am absolutely a member because the fact is, it works for me.

Why?

Before I expect you to bear my continued ramblings on my setup for this year, I do plan on telling you why I think this system is great for the frazzled, over-achieving yet forgetful, scatterbrained perfectionist procrastinating overworked mess that I know half of us are.

The advantage of this planner is a running, constant list of everything you need to have done, all in one place. From the start of the month, you make a list of everything that you want to get done that month. Then each day, either the night before or in the morning, you can review and list everything you need to get done that day, and migrate tasks from the monthly page. Throughout the day you can write down anything you think of or find out about during the course of the day. As you migrate tasks day by day you will see the things you are ignoring every day, and be forced to reflect and either decide how you will get it done, or decide that it is not worth doing.

If you need to make a plan for any specific goal, you have a book of blank pages to plot out a plan on. You have empty pages for any list you need, specifically, like books to read, assignment due dates, thesis writing plans, application process tracker, or whatever specific project you need all in one place. Essentially, it is a planner with the room and emptiness to fill with whatever you need day by day, rather than plotting and erasing and replanning in a traditional dated planner.

Year at a Glance

Before I start showing pictures I just want to say that my BuJo isn’t perfect. My lines are wobbly and there are a ton of accidental mispellings, not leaving enough room, writing the wrong date, etc, etc, in this. The community at large (yes my friends, there’s a planner community!) seems to have an obsession with perfection and while I do admit to a certain level of dissatisfaction with my mistakes, getting hung up on not being completely perfect will complete destroy the entire point of this freeform planning system.

Now, on with the show!

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Here is my half-filled year. This page is for really important dates, like holidays or birthdays or graduation. One glance let’s you know how full any given month is. I can look at this and know I best get everything I need done before May hits. But where do you put your appointments? There’s not enough room for all my plans, Danny, my life is a constant stream of responsibility! Not to worry my friend, that is not what this page is for. We can mosey on forward to my next page….

Calendex

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What the hell is a calendex? Well, it’s explained here and here, but what it basically is an index of all your events. Those links include pictures of filled out calendexes to help you understand my blank one. My calendex will let me know where I wrote down event information, so that I can write it on any page when I hear about it, then record that page in the proper date here so that when later I have to check what I’m doing that month/week/day, I can see I have an event. Again, you may be seeing a trend; your information is not all written out anywhere yet. Don’t worry. I’ve got you.

Monthly Setup

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Ah, the month. This is the first page that you will finally have a list of all your events. At the start of your month, check your year at a glance and carry over any holidays. Then, check your calendex and use it to fill out other events. Here you have a master task list to dump all things you want to complete in the month, right beside your events to (hopefully) make you consider how much time you really have. I personally include a gratitude-a-day section to add some positivity to my hell, and a budget section to help with my horrible awareness of my own expenditures.

Weekly Setup

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Here, we find the real heart of the journal. Everything else is practicality, to allow this portion to work. Carry over any monthly to-dos to this week if you want to get them done. Everything else I have on this page is just fluff that makes me happy; the real value is that date header, Monday, January 2nd, 2017.

This is what a bullet journal makes you do. At night the day before, or right in the morning, you write down the date. Then you write in any events you need to be aware of. Then you make a to-do list. Carry items over from weekly (or leave them in weekly to get done any time in the week that you find time). Subdivide bigger tasks into a specific to-do for that day. This list is everything you need for TODAY and only TODAY.

If you are like me, it won’t all get done. But with the bullet journal, all of your events, your monthly tasks, your weekly tasks, and your unfinished todo list for today are in one place, they aren’t getting lost. Anything that still needs to get done gets moved forward to tomorrow’s today. You carry over any monthly or weeklies that you want. You cross out tasks that no longer need to get accomplished (or, once you’ve carried them over five times, you accept that you just aren’t going to do them). Your work schedule, class schedule, doctor’s appointments, parties, homework assignments, wedding tasks, workout routines, all sit here.

And that’s not even the best part of this.

The best part is that in the beginning, you set up a table of contents. So when this constant running to-do list is working great for you, but you really need a place to list those books you want to read, you turn to a fresh page, write them down, then record where you put that list. Every single thing your over-achieving yet procrastinating and forgetful self wants to get done is in one, easily referenced book.

It’s the most personal planner you’ll ever have, and we’re all living crazy lives with 20 different goals and 50 different responsibilities. None of it fits in a standard planner, none of it can be planned into an already dated planner, and none of it will get remembered on scattered lists or a frazzled brain. This method puts it together so you can get it done. And every time you make your list, every day, you sit and think about what is to come, what you got done, and what you can get done, making you actively aware of all of it, and refining your ability to recognize your priorities and assess your goals.