4 Ways To Be Present While Traveling

4 Ways To Be Present While Traveling

The intangible, yet most important, part of traveling.

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In the summer of 2017 I left the country for the first time. I spent two weeks on the island of Java in the country of Indonesia, and I fell in love with the new-ness of culture, people, language, and food in a way that I didn't previously believe was possible. I have fallen in love with every place I've visited so far, and each country and city has taught me something different. Each one has taught me to love a new location, to be okay with a new bed (if there is one), and to eat what's given to you (no matter how strange).

Don't get me wrong, I love where I live here in Missouri, I love being in a comfortable home, and I'm a picky eater, but the adrenaline rush of being in complete oblivion of a place unknown to me is so addicting. Since my trip to Indonesia I have also traveled to England, France, and Jordan. All are beautiful in their own way, and I don't have a favorite (please don't ask me to pick). My tips about immersion will all be based on my first trip – to Indonesia. These five tips on how to truly be present in a place you're traveling to are not about things you can buy, or tours you pay for, or even the luxury of places you stay, but instead are focused on the intangible things such as friendships, language, and change of the heart.

1. Stay a while.

No one is asking you to stay forever, but spend enough time in one place that you are able to make a friend. It could be the barista at the coffee shop you go to, or someone at the park, but at least a week is enough time to make this happen. One week will allow you to see the way the local people live, as well as give you time to see all that there is to see in your travel destination.
I stayed for two weeks in Indonesia, and volunteered at an English Center where I made friends that I will have for a lifetime. I was able to go on gelato dates with my new friends, and still have time to see a volcano, go on a float trip, and conquer my fear of heights (kind of) by jumping off of a 35-40 foot cliff into water. Anything is possible to explore if you stay long enough.

2. Find the little things.

This is when knowing local people comes in handy. Your new local friends will suggest the best places to eat, tour, take pictures of, and where the best local coffee shops are. Don't fall into the trap of your own imagination or the trap your own taste buds, step outside of yourself and live like a local.
On the island of Java there is bound to be great coffee (I mean…there has to be, right?) and some of the best coffee I found was actually in my hotel. None of the "chain" coffees came close to the taste of the tiny espresso-sized mugs of coffee I got at the hotel's breakfast.

3. It's not about you.

You're soaking in a new experience, not being your own experience. So many times I see travelers and friends leave the country expecting to change the world with their presence, but they're not letting their presence be changed by the world. When you travel to your next location, look for ways you can be educated about the place you're in, listen to your new friends and strangers, and find every excuse to spend the most time outside of your hotel room.

4. Rest.

You aren't going to remember your trip if your mind isn't rested enough to store more memories. Long flights and travel wear people out very quickly, and your excursions aren't going to be as exciting if you're not awake to remember them. However, if you need to adjust to a large time difference, don't go to bed until 8 pm the first day that you're there. That will allow your body to readjust to the time zone quicker so you'll be more rested for the days ahead.

Wherever you're going, I hope you learn the most you can and that you immerse yourself into a beautiful culture. Even if you don't understand it at first, allow yourself to be open to differences. Stop comparing your destination to "what's back home" and just let yourself be! Travel is meant to be an addition to your cultural portfolio, not a comparison. I hope these tips help you to have a better understanding of how to venture into a new culture. Have a great trip!

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7 Things You Do If You’re One Of Those 'I Always Order Chicken Tenders' People

It's hard to love food but also hate it at the same time.

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Growing up, my mom would usually have to cook me a separate dinner from my siblings. Why? Because I was ridiculously picky and wouldn't eat the same foods as everyone else. Trust me, it gets old. It's not my fault certain things just taste gross, you learn to live with it.

1. You eat something you hate just to see if you still hate it

I'll take a bite of a burger every once in a while just to reaffirm that it still tastes like dirt. I just have to know. Don't even get me started on vegetables.

2. When trying to explain what you actually like to eat, people give you major side eye

Don't ask me about my eating habits unless you want to get into a long, confusing conversation.

3. Eating at someone else’s house when you were younger was a pain

You hate to tell their parents just how much you hate the food that they gave you. So, you sucked it up and ate it anyway only to come home and whine to your parents.

4. There’s one thing on any menu you always fall back on...even if it’s on the kids menu

Pizza, maybe. Chicken tenders, always.

5. Trying a new food is a very proud moment

It's like, wow! Look at me being all adventurous.

6. When you realize you actually like some new food, that’s an even more amazing moment

Crazy times. This rarely happens.

7. Sometimes it’s the texture, sometimes it’s the flavor, all the time it’s left on your plate

Oops. At restaurants it's either left on your plate or your order is very specified.

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Why Ellena Whitfield Became YouTube's 'EllenaWhat'

A conversation with Ellena Whitfield on the future of YouTube, journalism, and social media.

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Ellena Whitfield, popularly known as "EllenaWhat" has taken advantage of the social media revolution with the success of her YouTube channel, which has a following of 65,000 subscribers.

YouTube has become the gateway to success for many young internet influencers as the site became second-most popular in the world as of August 2018.

Whitfield has applied her success online to her schooling at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. With an aspiration to become a Rolling Stone or Alternative Press journalist, Whitfield creates weekly music reviews to her channel.

"I think YouTube is relevant because of the culture our generation expresses. We grew up with the boom of social media and it's our modern-day entertainment on a more personal level. Our parents experienced the same thing through the boom of television. This is why we've started to idolize influencers like they are movie stars," Whitfield said.

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Whitfield has met many other young and successful influencers during her time at ASU and the making of her channel. Her cousin, Kendall Rae, a YouTuber with 1 million subscribers inspired her to create her channel.

Whitfield expressed that she would love to become a full-time YouTuber, but there is always the fear that the platform will crash.

"One of the biggest YouTube influencers, Jeffree Star, was making money off of Myspace and then all of a sudden the platform, which seemed revolutionary at the time, crashed and he was forced to live on his friend's couches for a while," Whitfield said.

Even with the fear of YouTube ending, Whitfield said her YouTube channel has given her a platform and the experience she needs to succeed as a journalist. Whitfield said that YouTube not only helped her gain a social relevance, but it gave her experience on how to make relevant and timely content.

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Human communication professor, Steven Corman emphasizes Whitfield's point on the importance of present-day journalists adopting the social revolution.

"Mainstream media and social media are part of a shared ecosystem. Mainstream media uses social media as a source of information, and social media plays an important role in distributing stories from mainstream media. Journalists need to embrace both if they want to be successful in creating stories and reaching larger audiences with those stories," Corman said.

The most unique aspect of journalism is that it is forever expanding. There are many new platforms and ways of sharing news such as YouTube that allows journalists to spread news faster than ever.

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Lexi Varrato, the social media director of ASU's AWSM club strives to evolve with journalism, especially when it comes to the club she helps run as it is one of the most important aspects of journalism to stay relevant.

"Having a social platform as a journalist is crucial because it helps you build your brand and create a presence in an era that is so technologically focused. Not only will you create your image, but it allows you to make connections that will help you further your career," Varrato said.

The rise of young influencers is very inspiring to Whitfield as she says it is realistic to make a career as an influencer. She said that YouTube can lead creators to many different careers such as creating a fashion line or becoming a journalist as she aspires.

Whitfield plans to keep her channel as long as YouTube exists because she loves every aspect of documenting her life and sharing it with her audience. Whitfield expressed that she cannot wait to see where YouTube is in a couple years and believes many college students should give YouTube a try.

"People that have millions of subscribers all started with zero. If you don't start now you're never going to know what could happen," Whitfield said.

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