4 Ways To Be Present During Travel

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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12 Dorm Room 'Essentials' That Are Actually A Waste Of Money

If three years of college has taught me anything, it's that I wasted a lot of money and space on things for my dorm room that I never used.

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Now approaching my senior year of college, there are so many things that I have experienced in my three years away that I either look back at and smile just at the thought of or immediately regret. With a younger sister going into her freshman year of college, I hope to teach her as much of those lessons I learned in advance so she doesn't make the same mistakes as me. One of the most important things I learned after moving in and out of dorm rooms and apartments for three years is what should and shouldn't come with you to school. Because, let's be real, as much as we want to pack away our entire lives and fit them in our minuscule dorm room, not everything is necessary.

However, knowledge is power, and I don't want to just save my sister from making those mistakes. That's why I'm here to share the 12 things that aren't necessary for you to bring to school:

1. A Keurig/coffee maker

While living in an apartment and having all the space in a kitchen for a coffee maker and the time to make my own hot drinks, having a Keurig was a godsend. But I'm going to be completely honest, as someone who wanted a Keurig so badly before freshman year...I rarely used it when I lived in the dorms. Between having meal points to buy my own coffee and just never having the time or energy to make it in the morning and then clean the dishes afterward, it just wasn't worth the waste of money and space.

2. A giant television

You may see pictures of dorm rooms and see students with giant televisions along their window or squished onto their desks. But unless you're living in a larger apartment, having a huge flat screen TV has no purpose for a small dorm room. There are TV's usually all over campus, especially in the common rooms that are free for you to use. If you really do feel like you need a TV in your dorm, a smaller one will suffice, because anything larger is going to take up some much-needed room.

3. Any type of hot plate/mini grill, etc.

Besides the fact that these are banned in most dormitories anyways, it's not smart to sneak one of these into your rooms. I can't tell you how many people I know that have accidentally started a fire in the dorm room from using a toaster they snuck in or a special "grilled cheese grill." The dining halls will have everything you could possibly want and need, and most dorm rooms come with a mini fridge and microwave to supplement anything further.

4. Candles

I'll admit, I am guilty of using these my sophomore year of college. Do I regret the millions of times I freaked out because I almost lit my dorm room on fire? Absolutely.

It's not worth it. Your RA will probably catch you, it's not worth the risk of accidentally setting your shoebox-sized dorm on fire, and the smoke detectors in those rooms are so sensitive that you're bound to set them off.

5. A printer

Unless you're living off campus in an apartment, there really is no reason to have a printer in your dorm room. There are tons of printers throughout the different buildings of every university, and most allot a certain amount of sheets for you to do your printing. Printers are big and clunky, hard to store, and the ink is very expensive. Don't consider buying one unless you plan on moving off campus.

6. An iron and ironing board

Take it from someone who absolutely hates wearing wrinkly clothes, the whole iron and ironing board duo was not a smart move my freshman year. It took up way too much room and when I did actually want to iron, it was so annoying to find a spot to do it in my small room.

If you're really obsessive about having non-wrinkled clothes like I am, you can invest in a mini steamer, which is super cheap, stored extremely easily because they're so small, and work just as well as an iron. I ended up swapping out for one of these my sophomore year and loving it so much more.

7. Bean bag chairs/Folding chairs

Any extra seating for a dorm room is honestly unnecessary besides the standard desk chairs that come with the dorm. The floor space is so limited that taking it up with any other large items is going to make it extremely difficult to navigate around your room. Also, when your friends come to hang out, they usually will end up just sitting on your bed or your desk chair anyways.

8. A body pillow

I don't really know what the use of these things are. I had one freshman year, and it laid against my bed the entire year and I never used it. I just found laying on it extremely awkward and uncomfortable and it was just so big that it took up too much room on my already tiny Twin XL bed.

9. A laundry hamper

A stand-up laundry hamper is just going to take up way too much space that you don't have. Instead, invest in some nicely made laundry bags that you can put your dirty laundry in and just easily carry over to the laundry room. A lot of stores even make special bags that differentiate between lights, darks, and delicates so the sorting is already done for you before you do your laundry.

10. A vacuum

While the idea of having a vacuum is nice, and I myself have had one all three years, it just took up way too much room in my dorm and I later found out you could just rent one from the commons whenever you wanted to clean your floor. Most universities do have cleaning supplies for rent, such as brooms, swifters, vacuums, etc., so there's no need trying to fit all of those in your closet.

11. A million throw pillows

While they'll make your bed look cute, making your bed every single morning and remembering where to put the millions of decorative pillows can become very annoying, not to mention finding a place to put them whenever you turn down your bed.

12. Picture frames

While having tons of pictures in your dorm room is nice, and I say the more the merrier, bringing physical picture frames is just a waste because there's not much shelf or desk place to place them. Instead, find a cute wall decoration that holds photos or clips to hang them from your wall. It'll save a ton of space and also cover up those bare, ugly dorm room walls.

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Day Four In Italy: Florence

This is the day we learned the history of everything

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Waking up bright and early we first took the tour bus to the country side of Florence where we visited a medieval town full of shops that lined a beautiful countryside.


CountrysideBrooke Burney

We spent about three hours here just looking around, buying things, and taking pictures. Once the three hours were up, we went to a winery where they explained how they made wine with the grapes in their vineyard.


In the vineyardBrooke Burney

After the tour, they fed us lunch with some of their wine. Then, after we ate, we passed through their wine shop and took the bus back to the Piazza della Signoria. On the way back, our tour guide was telling us about Michelangelo and his time creating the Statue of David. We had to stand in a line for about thirty minutes but when our time came, we were thrilled. We entered and saw artwork from many different artists. However, Michelangelo had a hallway of his own that was mostly filled with unfinished sculptures of statues with David being at the very end.


Statue of DavidBrooke Burney

After the tour of the art museum, our tour guide took us to the square where the churches were and gave us a history lesson on them. He gave us a background on the pictures that were painted on the doors and what they represent.


Brooke Burney

After this tour, we went back to our hotel where we were able to go eat dinner. My friends and I went back to the small square we first went to and ate in a small pizza joint.


Italian pizzaBrooke Burney

If you ever go to Europe, keep in mind that they have a hard time splitting orders. As we were sitting at this table, we asked for separate checks but they made us pay separately on a single check, which was kind of funny watching three American girls pick through their euros.

After dinner, we went back to our hotel to pack for the next day. To the train station, then Pompeii!

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