Becoming my own in the city that makes you feel brand new

These Streets will Make you feel brand new

I am letting courage carry my journey as I have embarked on a solo adventure to NYC to seek my dreams out into a reality.

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Alicia Keys created the song "Empire State of Mind" with Jay Z that released in 2009 and quickly became a world-wide phenomenon. I remember listening to this song on repeat for the past 9 years and have been waiting for my chance, my turn to experience the life that Alicia was making sound so beautiful and so empowering.

"Even if it ain't all it seems
I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I'm from
New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothing you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
The big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York, New York, New York"

I got a pocket full of dreams

As a young child, I have dreamed and hoped that one day I would end up at a huge publication company in New York City. I have pictured myself in fabulous shoes, walking the streets and going into an amazing office with a view of the skyline...and here I am. I have always been a dreamer and I feel like a dream is the first place you go to make something a reality. To dream something means that you are thinking about it, you are wishing and coming up with a plan. What I have always imagined myself doing has given me a pocket full of dreams that have started and ended with New York City. So, here I am. My pocket of dreams have been opened and I am standing on the corner of 59th and Columbus Circle and my pocket has been emptied. My dreams are becoming my reality.

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

It truly is a jungle. While all that above sounds so glitz and so glam by the way my dreams have come true, I realized very quickly that living here brings out different eyes. While I was dropped off with my bags, I was soon adjusted to a new neighborhood, new smells, new people and new animals...or bugs. This city is filled with people from all over the world. People with different upbringings, different lifestyles, and different mindsets. I truly don't think that one person is the same here in this city. The lifestyle here is concrete based and is fast paced. People are willing to live in this crowded and crazy place to make thier dreams come true and seek their dreams out.

There's nothing you can't do

While this is true, it depends on which way you are looking at the city and the upbringing you have come from. For me, this city truly has endless amounts of possibilites. So many places to eat, socialize, sightsee, watch, shop, walk, drive, and so on and so on. I did come to the city alone and I was scared. But, the light for me was the endless amounts of things to do and new things to see. I think this also means that the sky is the limit. In NYC there are so many people and so many possibilities to get your foot in the door and make your dreams come true in the workforce. I have learned that people work their a$ off to make a name for themselves. Sit in the sweaty subway to and from work, work long hours, live in tight corners, but it is all worth it for this "dream".

These streets will make you feel brand new
The big lights will inspire you

I am here alone and I have had moments and days of weakness. Being alone, lonely, tired, exhausted, hot, and missing Iowa. But, the feeling I get when I am coming off the subway to a crowded street with skyscrapers all around me truly is a feeling I haven't felt before. Watching people hustle to work in their nice work clothes and preparing for their day is inspiring to see and be apart of. At night looking at all the lights the city creates gives me goosebumps and it challenges me to have a positive attitude and keep smiling through this adventure.

New York is an adventure. I have had my struggles so far but am focusing on the dream. The dream that every one has coming here. The fact I can be apart of this, something this big and this inspiring as a 20 year old young woman is something I am not taking for granted. I am ready to see what the next day has to bring.

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12 Struggles Only Portuguese Girls Can Relate To

It's like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" but Portuguese edition.
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As mentioned before in my "8 Ways You Know You're Portuguese" article, I'm 100% European Portuguese. Which means that if you're reading this, you're probably somehow related to me (see #5). You know these 12 things to be true if you grew up in a Portuguese household:

1. You're pressured to marry a Pork Chop.

A Pork Chop is a Portuguese person. The older generation feels that this term is derogatory, but Portuguese Americans self identify as 'Pork Chops.' Some families will probably disown you if you don't marry a Portuguese guy, but I lucked out and my family is pretty open minded. Let me put it this way, if you're not married by the time you're 28, your grandma and your mother are going to take you to the Portuguese club to find a nice Pork Chop to settle down with. You may not be forced into a Portuguese marriage, but it's highly preferred that you marry within the culture.

2. You're always too fat, even if you're skinny.

Portuguese people are a feminist's worst nightmare. They will body shame the hell out of you and feel no remorse. You could lose 20 pounds and look/feel amazing and a Portuguese person will still say "well, you could stand to lose a few more pounds."

3. You must remember your Portuguese classes that you took when you were five years old.

It is a crime against humanity to a Portuguese person if you don't at least understand the language. If you can speak it, read it, and understand it, you've automatically earned yourself the "golden child" title. Every time I move to a different state, my Grandma's only warning is "don't forget your Portuguese," because someone's got to carry on the culture.

4. Am I white? Mixed? Hispanic? Unclear.

I grew up thinking I was some kind of Latina just because the Portuguese language is so similar to Spanish. You probably feel comfortable in Hispanic communities because of your Portuguese background. I eventually realized that I'm white, but I still get told that I look racially ambiguous. Whenever someone asks what nationality I am, I give them three guesses. It's rare that people ever guess Portuguese, but upon finding out that I am, I suddenly become "exotic."

5. You have 55 first cousins.

This is not an exaggeration. My dad actually has 50 first cousins. I have 13, but I have way more cousins in Portugal that I've either never met, or I've met them, but wouldn't be able to pick them out of a line up. If you go to Portugal and visit all of your relatives, the faces and names start to blur together and it's safe to call every man "Joao" and every woman "Maria" or "Ana Maria" and they'll be delighted that you remembered their names.

6. You have to make sure you don't marry your own cousin.

Portugal is such a small country that if you meet a fellow Pork Chop in America, chances are, you're somehow related or your families are friends. I suggest drawing an extensive family tree before shacking up with a Pork Chop.

7. Somebody is always praying for you.

Portuguese people are devoutly Catholic, so it doesn't matter if you're temporarily down on your luck or a self made millionaire, you have a tia (an aunt) that you probably only see when someone in the family passes away, who prays on the rosary every night for you.

8. You must have a name that can be pronounced in Portuguese.

There are two criteria for naming a Portuguese baby: is it the name of a saint, and can it be pronounced in Portuguese? If your uncle twice removed that you see every six years when you go to Portugal can't say your baby's name, you need to pick a new one. Names like "Riley" and "Jackson" won't get Grandma's approval.

9. You're considered adventurous if you move out of your parents house before you're married.

It's rare that Portuguese women don't live with their mothers until they find a spouse, and even once they do get married, it's not uncommon for their mother to move in with her daughter and her (hopefully Portuguese) husband.

10. You've been given something with Our Lady of Fatima on it.

Fatima is Portugal's claim to fame. It's the city in Portugal where three kids claimed they saw the Virgin Mary in 1917 and it's now a popular, religious tourist destination. Your grandma has probably given you something with the Blessed Mary on it to put in your car or in your bedroom so that you stay '#blessed' all the time.

11. You're not allowed to be a vegetarian.

Portuguese people are fishermen and their specialty is codfish, so it's nearly impossible to maintain a vegetarian diet in a Portuguese household. You can be pescatarian though!

12. You have to warn people before you introduce them to your family.

Have you ever seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" That's what it's like to bring a non-Portuguese boyfriend to a Portuguese family gathering. Good luck.

Cover Image Credit: CDMPHY / Flickr

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6 Reasons Traveling Is Good For Your Mind, Body, And Soul

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

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Have you ever traveled to a new destination and felt your mood instantly improve? Are you like me and feel happiest when you're on vacation? This is because traveling is a way for you to renew your soul and step out of your comfort zone. It keeps you happy and allows you to experience new things.

Visiting new destinations can open your mind to experiences you didn't even know were possible. You can meet new people, fall in love, try new foods, and see remarkable sites all while traveling. There are no limits to the places you can visit, and the things you can see. Currently, I am on a mini weekend trip to Arizona, and being here has opened my eyes and made me realize how impactful traveling really is on your mind, body, and soul. Traveling should be something you do as often as possible and whenever you get the chance. Here's why:

1. Traveling makes your heart happy 

Traveling is something that most people enjoy. It keeps the heart young and childlike. Traveling brings people joy because they get to experience new things that they love with the people they love.

2. It teaches you to embrace every moment 

Traveling can be unpredictable, especially because you are experiencing new things. Although it can be challenging, we learn best from these unpredictable moments. When we travel we learn to embrace every situation that is thrown at us.

3. Traveling relieves stress and improves mental health 

Traveling reduces stress and allows you to relax. More often than not, you take off work when you go on vacation and you focus on renewing your self. You get away from all the crazy things going on in your life, and you can just relax and focus on your own happiness.

4. It broadens your horizons 

Traveling lets you branch out and experience different cultures. You can try new foods, new activities, and meet all different types of people. You learn diversity, and you learn respect for other people and their culture's. Traveling helps you learn other perspectives around the world and lets your mind think in ways it never has before.

5. It keeps you healthy 

Traveling actually plays a big part in your physical health as well. During vacations, you often walk a lot to destinations and participate in calorie burning activities like hiking and swimming. Activities like these are often why you still are able to get your workout in while on vacation.

6. Traveling reminds you what is important 

Most importantly, traveling reminds you of the important things in life. We live day by day forgetting that every moment is remarkable. Sometimes, we get stuck in the same old boring routine and take for granted the life we have been given. Traveling reminds us that memories are valuable and that our lives should be cherished.

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