The Definition Of A Culture Hound

The Definition Of A Culture Hound

An intro on adventure enthusiasts.
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If you've been keeping up with my articles so far, you know that 1) I love to travel; 2) I love to eat; and 3) I am always down for an adventure. So, I thought I'd shed some light on my nickname (a name I'm sure most of you embody too): Culture Hound.

Before I do this, though, you need some background on me.

I’m your average 21-year-old hot mess of a college student, hailing from the greatest city on earth (if you didn’t catch that, I’m from New York City), with a serious case of wanderlust. It all began at the age of 5, when my dad picked me up one day (divorced parents, y'know?) and said, “Pick anywhere in the world you want to go and we will go right now.” I said Paris (if you asked me today, I would probably not choose Paris — too many cooler places to visit), and off we went. From then on, I traversed Europe with him and our entourage of a crazy uncle (everyone has one), a nanny, and whoever was my father’s current girlfriend at the time. We were a motley crew, to say the least.

Traveling was something I shared with my dad and, after he died, was something that I needed to continue to keep his memory alive. Since then, I have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I have snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, I have lived on farms in rural South Africa and in Tuscany, I have surfed in Brazil, I have biked all of New Zealand, I have studied abroad in Rome, I have escaped arrest in countless European countries with just a backpack, I have survived an overnight train from Florence to Vienna, I have crashed an ATV on a Greek Island, I have lived and worked in Phnom Penh, D.C., New York, and Houston — and I'm still alive. Shocking, I know.

Now let me get back to what this article is really about.

A Culture Hound can be defined as someone who is constantly in awe of his/her surroundings and seeks to soak up every aspect of any culture he/she comes into contact with. If you break down the phrase, a hound is an aggressive dog, one that, in this case, will pursue culture relentlessly. That’s me. People will say that my best and subsequently worst quality is my hunger for life; 99.9 percent of the time, I will never say no. I'm interesting, adaptable, and hungry — hungry for stories, hungry for answers, and hungry for adventures. And I am relentless in pursuing that hunger. My thirst for life is insatiable. I am always down for a new adventure.

When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I tell them honestly that I just want to learn. Since I was a little girl I have been obsessed with learning, always trying to soak up information to relay to mostly uninterested family and friends, who would often respond with the usual “mhmm,” “oh really?” and “that’s crazy!”

This love of gathering and imparting information has evolved. As I matured, my passion for learning and my hunger for life grew. When a subject captured my attention, I became totally consumed by it, immersing myself in current topics ranging from North Korea to GMOs and agribusiness, and from Mexican politics to the history of cacio e pepe (a Roman pasta dish).

My Culture Hound tendencies also include finding the best things each city has to offer and then telling everyone I know about them: best foods, restaurants, bars, clubs, museums, neighborhoods — you get it. Whenever I arrive in a new place, I walk for hours to orient myself (my feet have literally bled from this), and then I start reading up on places and talking to locals.

When I was in Rome I was lucky enough to live with a Roman student who introduced me to all of her friends, some of whom I am still friends with. Silvia, the roommate, was a springboard. I also always find a compadre. After two weeks in Rome I met Amanda, the compadre, and my traveling, eating, exploring, man-finding, and drinking buddy. The two of us were unstoppable. There were no hesitations, no inhibitions, no uncertainties. Amanda and I were addicted to having a good time and to being as "Roman" as possible.

Unfortunately, this often reckless and impulsive behavior has gotten me into my fair share of trouble. Let's take the most recent example of this. In honor of the 10-year anniversary of my dad's death, my best friend and I decided that we needed to do something "life affirming." First she suggested sky-diving, which I vetoed, and then we settled on paragliding. Have you heard of paragliding? It's when you literally jump off the side of a cliff, attached to another human being and a parachute, and pray to God you catch some wind and float down. For some strange reason, we thought that this was safer than sky-diving. The best friend went off just fine. And I crashed — attached to a 200-plus-pound man — and landed on rocks and trees and next to a hornets nest. Suffice to say, I spent the next eight days in the hospital with 10 fractures and a bed pan.

Culture Hounds may never learn their lesson. But you can always count on us to have a good time.

(Shout-out to Elisabeth for giving me this nickname; she is my art mutt.)

Cover Image Credit: me

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Things To Do in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is a big city with a booming night life and beautiful scenery.

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I recently took a long weekend trip to Vancouver. Here are some things I did and some ideas and suggestions for those visiting the city for the first time.

Cocktails

You can't come to Metropolitan Vancouver and not go out for drinks at least one night. There are so many restaurants and cocktail lounges around the city, it would be a shame to neglect to try some Canadian alcohol. The first night I was in town, I went to Juniper Restaurant and Bar in Chinatown.

They had a wide selection of different mixed drinks, and I was impressed with the flavors of all the different cocktails I tried. Most restaurants around the city sell alcohol, so do some research and try the different alcohol selections in the different parts of the city.

The drinking age in Canada is 19, so it was strange for me to go out and order cocktails for myself. Some places ask for two forms of Government issued ID, so be prepared by bringing your Drivers License and passport.

Clubs

The Roxy

During my time in the city, I never went to any clubs. My hotel was on the same block as several of the popular ones, and they seemed like a pretty big deal. I am used to the clubs in my college town, so I was not prepared to walk myself into a real uppity downtown club.

Some of them have dress codes and other rules so be sure to do some research before planning your whole night around being there. One down the block from my downtown hotel was called The Roxy Cabaret. I heard if you are wanting just one club to give you the full Vancouver experience, that was the one to try.

Markets

Granville Island Public Market Entrance

The most popular market in Vancouver is the Granville Island Public Market, very obviously located on Granville Island. The market has art galleries, the market itself which includes anything from artwork to fruits and meats, little shops, and restaurants.

There is a lot of entertainment there. Sometimes they host music festivals and other events during the summer, so expect to spend several hours there if you are wanting to get the full market experience.

During the summer, North Vancouver hosts The Shipyards Night Market. If you are wanting a taste of North Vancouver, including food, drinks, and culture, this is the summer event to go to. I ate some tasty Greek dessert and drank a sparkling vodka while listening to a live band. It was a great way to enjoy the beautiful evenings on the shore.

Whale Watching

Killer Whales

Vancouver is known for its beautiful landscapes and its salmon fishing. While I was there, we went whale watching in Steveston, British Columbia located right outside of Vancouver. During our 4 hour trip, we saw bald eagles, sea lions, killer whales, all with the backdrop of the beautiful North Shore Mountains.

Make sure to bring warm clothes and food. It was a really beautiful trip but the breeze from the fast-moving boat was a little chilly. It was also a long trip, so it was nice to have something to snack on to make sure I wouldn't get sea sick.

Eat

Vegetarian Poutine

Morgan Fischer

Vancouver is a cultural center. There are so many different people there from all over the world. The majority of the people I met there had accents because they were not originally from Canada.

That means the city is filled with every type of food you can think of. You can get anything from Thai to Italian to barbeque and everything in between. Look up different culture areas of the city and try new food in each one.

I also suggest trying Canadian food. Poutine especially. Poutine is simply french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds on it. There are even restaurants that just serve poutine, but spice it up with different toppings and such. The one I would always walk by was Mean Poutine that was located downtown. There was always a line out the door so it must be good!

Finally, Just Ask a Local

Vancouver residents obviously know the best things to do in the city. All the people I interacted with were extremely nice and helpful. I even had a waitress write down a whole list of places to go get the best cocktails around the city.

Do not be shy while you are there. Talk to your waitress or the person helping you at the store. Ask them about the city and see where they think you should go. You never know a hidden treasure you may find or an adventure you may experience because of their advice!

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