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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Learn Something Valuable From These 7 European Countries

When you are surrounded by chocolate, treat yourself.
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America is a big country. So large that some parts of the country are so diverse they may as well be in different worlds, yet, American soil will always have one uniting factor: The American Dream. So, if we have an idea that enables synonymity in our vast country then that means that as different as some American counterparts may seem, we also share much of the same. This is why international travel is so important.

In fact, global traveling is more feasible then some may think, and can help shape your life in tremendous ways. So, here are seven life lessons there are to learn from those other international communities, specifically seven countries from Europe.

1. Spain: Be diverse in your choices

The Spanish are famous for their “tapas”. If you spend time in Spain then you will undoubtedly encounter this diversified little meal. Tapas are essentially small little plates (or tasters) of different dishes. This thereby encourages making choices that consist of variety, reinforcing to those who are creatures of habit to try something new!

2. England: Spend time outdoors

Take a trip to England and you will be surrounded by areas of preserved green space. When walking the streets of London you can expect every other block to be an area reserved for a small community park, not to mention the tremendously large parks in London, like Hyde Park. This dedicated space for outdoor enjoyment encourages people to get out of their homes and go move around in the parks.

3. Belgium: Treat yourself

Oh, the Belgium chocolate. Belgium is world renowned for having excellent, gourmet chocolate. Must I say any more? Treat yourself! With a chocolatier shop on every corner, it’s hard to miss.

4. The Netherlands: Exercise

When people think of Amsterdam, they often think of bicycles. Boy, is that true. Bicycles rule the road in the Netherlands, especially the populated city of Amsterdam. It is not uncommon to see elegantly dressed women, mothers with newborns, or toddlers cycling along the busy streets. Take a page from the Dutch way of life and try using your bicycle as your main mode of transportation.

5. Germany: Learn a foreign language

The German language is a bit abstract to English speakers. Which means if you do not speak German, then you will be playing charades to find your way through the German homeland. Some regions consist of seasoned English speakers, but do not plan on it. Take this as a mental note to learn a new language.

6. Italy: Eat good food

Italian food. Yum. The Italians know how to achieve high-quality life through their beautiful leisurely vacation destinations, fine art scene, and AMAZING FOOD. Take a trip to Italy, eat good food, and come home realizing you should treat your taste buds better then you have.

7. Denmark: Don’t take candy from strangers

Allow me to clarify something: the Danish are very sweet and kind people. Their candy will not actually cause damage to your body in terms of being toxic, but your taste buds will revolt unless you like salted black licorice.

Cover Image Credit: Jazmine Kelleher

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10 Reasons Chicago Is The Best City In America

The iconic magnificence of the Windy City is never ending.
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Sweet home Chicago. A city filled with creativity, wonder, mystery and the fast tempo of bustling businesses. The Windy City will always be the king of cities in the Midwest. If you need anymore convincing, here's why.

1. The food

Chicago has seriously some of the best dining in the country. If you're in the mood for some good old hotdogs and burgers, Portillos has you covered. Or, maybe you're into something a little fancier like Ditka's. Dessert, anyone? Hit up Mandy B's in Lincoln Park for some fantastic cookies, cakes, whatever your heart desires. Any and all food you may crave, Chicago has it. You'll never experience a better place to taste test than this city.

2. The nightlife

Whatever age group you are, there's a variety of places to go. If you're in college like me, head down to Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park or the West Loop to find some great places to dance the night away or just enjoy the company of friends. The collection of breweries, bars and clubs are all at your fingertips should you want to reach out and grab them. The list is endless and you'll never run out of options of where to go.

3. The sightseeing

Famous for it's incredible architecture, Chicago can wow with it's splendor of unique buildings and high rises. Take an architecture boat tour down the Chicago River and check out some of the most famous buildings around. Not in the mood to look at unique buildings? Then check out some of Chicago's famous museums and attractions. The Field Museum always has different exhibits to explore. The Shedd Aquarium always has spectacular aquatic life to see and will allow you to experience child-like giddiness again. Maybe you're not into history or fish. Chicago's Art Institute has classics that you can admire for hours. And you can't forget good old Navy Pier or Millennium Park where the Bean resides. With so many great options, you'll never feel bored.

4. The shopping

Any store you could want or need, the Windy City provides. The famous Magnificent Mile is any shopaholics dream, filled with favorites like Forever 21, H & M, TopShop, Nordstrom, Macy's and couture shops like Burberry, Gucci and Prada. If you're feeling vintage, head up to the northern part of the city to find unique little shops filled with items you can't find anywhere else.

5. The people

Chicagoans are happy people. We're polite, hardworking and always ready to have a good time. You'll never find a group of people more thrilled to live in a city.

6. The entertainment

Go see a Broadway show at the Chicago Theatre to experience theater like never before. Blue Man Group is always a good show and available. Or check out Second City, Chicago's famous comedy shows where comedians like Tina Fey, Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler began their careers. In the mood for some live music? The House of Blues, Lincoln Hall and the Riviera Theatre are great places to look.

7. The lifestyle

Chicago offers a different neighborhood for any type of person. Working as a young professional? Find an apartment in the West Loop or Lincoln Park area. Or maybe you're looking for the sweet life. One of the prestigious neighborhoods in Chicago is the Gold Coast, where you can find fine dining and high end shops right around the corner.

8. The outdoors

Head to Oak Street or North Shore beach and feel the Lake Michigan sand beneath your toes. You can have a relaxing day laying out or play a competitive game of beach volleyball. Along the beach are miles of walking paths from the lakeshore where you can view Lake Michigan's beauty. Walk through Lincoln Park Zoo (it's free!) and see the various amount of wild animals living there. Just because it's the city doesn't mean you can't experience the great outdoors.

9. The businesses

If you're ready to work your way up to the top, Chicago is the best place to start. With a plethora of companies or small business that you can work for, you can find your perfect place to work. You'll find that working in this city will open doors for you and your future.

10. The sports

Chicago has some of the best sporting venues around. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016, and Wrigley Field is iconic. Catch a game and see for yourself the magic Wrigley has. Make your way toward the suburbs to catch a Chicago Blackhawks game. The fun pace of hockey and the vibe of the United Center will get you immersed in the game. Go watch some football with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field and expose yourself to true Chicago loyalty.

Chicago will continue to be one of the best cities in the world. It's a fantastic place to visit and an even better place to live. So, what are you waiting for?

Cover Image Credit: Maddie Blank

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