Most recent grads can agree that no matter how prepared we try to be, the world is pretty tough to make sense of after leaving the cozy confines of campus. When best friends Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale graduated from Brown University, they had no idea what to expect from post-college life, and on their last night on campus before setting off for opposite sides of the world, the two made a pact to send each other honest weekly accounts of whatever adventures came next. Their emails zigzagged between New York, Paris, Beijing and Melbourne as Jess and Rachel faced the thrill and confusion of life in the “real world.” Among the ups and downs of new jobs, relationships and time zones, the one thing that remained consistent was their weekly letters.
Now, the two have compiled those letters into Graduates In Wonderland, an addictive and wildly relatable memoir of the roller coaster that is life in your early twenties. From the very first page, it was hard not to wonder whether Jess and Rachel had taken a peak inside my own mind. In between their fast-paced adventures and mishaps, they share quiet doubts and questions with the kind of honesty that only exists between close friends. Not only does this book serve as a reminder that none of us are alone in feeling lost every now and then, it’s also a gentle nudge to stop what you’re doing and give your best friend a call. Jess and Rachel spoke with me about some of their thoughts on living abroad, youthful idealism, true love, and the importance of quality friendships.
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Well, another fabulous summer in Ibiza comes to a close. The A-listers were busy this summer: Zac Efron got cozy with Michelle Rodriguez, Bieber got punched, Paris Hilton ate dinner. I compiled a few simple rules to help you survive next time you find yourself partying on the bronzed coast. Do they call it that? Let’s call it that. Keep reading »
It was October 2012. My Australian boyfriend and I had just been on a romantic, whirlwind adventure road trip around Europe. We spent the first month with his parents in Spain and France, and then spent the following month on our own. We zigzagged through Switzerland, Austria, a brief drive through Lichtenstein, Germany, and finally Belgium. We’d been living in London before our travels and this was to be our final trip before we relocated together to San Francisco.
The preceding months had been fraught with anxiety as the expiration dates on our visas approached. As is the the case in many international relationships, my boyfriend and I struggled how to proceed as a couple. San Francisco was my choice, but he was not quite ready to leave Europe. In Bruges, on the last day of our trip, we broke up. We were one day away from going back to London, saying our goodbyes and then going our separate ways to reunite a few months later. The impending separation felt like it spelled doom, and we suffered over what to do. Keep reading »
I have always been interested in travel, but circumstances (AKA money) have made it difficult. Many of my friends opted for semesters abroad in college or backpacked after graduation. I, unfortunately, was too practical. I could never justify taking the number of days or spending the number of dollars an overseas vacation requires. Instead, I read travel guides, obsessively open travel emails, and pin picturesque destinations for vacations I have yet to take.
A few months ago, I decided it’s now or never. I checked my savings, picked a general destination, notified my husband, and jumped on the next mind-blowing travel deal that popped up in my inbox. BAM! Two tickets to Tuscany!
A few months later, I am as excited as ever, but have yet to solidify plans. If budget wasn’t a question, here are all the things I would love to do in Tuscany. Keep reading »
So if we’re not all clear on the fact that I deal with sometimes-crippling anxiety as a result of PTSD yet, let’s just put that out there now. I tried to cure it by going on a big adventure, thereby exposing myself to constant emotional stimulation/isolation and it turned out to be an unsuccessful ploy that made me want to just hole up at home for several months straight (which, basically, I did).
The thing is, there are still good reasons to travel, on occasion. In June I went to Madison for father’s day; I went to New York last month to see the final weekend of Kara Walker’s Domino installation and meet some writing colleagues in person (note: Amelia and Jessica are cool online but even cooler in person), and then toward the end of the month I went to Colorado for a family reunion (/introducing the beau to the fam). I’ll be going to Austin probably three times in the next year, for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and SXSW; and Michael and I have talked about maybe visiting DC and Philadelphia next year because they’ve got free museums and museums are life (OK, that’s my reason if not his).
In other words, I like traveling. But it still makes me feel like I’m drowning, though: When I was in New York I got so overwhelmed by the whole hostel experience that I had to beg a couch from a friend (who was happy to oblige, thankfully), and I had panic attacks in Colorado induced by a feeling of both spending way too much time with the people I love and not being productive enough work-wise (yes, this merits a panic attack — think fear of failure/rejection), in addition to just not being at home, in my safe space. Slowly but surely, the more I travel, the more I’m learning what I can do to enjoy myself and have an enriching experience while not going crazy. Keep reading »