5 Things I wish someone had told me before traveling alone

5 Things no one told me the first time I traveled alone

Through all the hectic airports and short layovers, it's easy to forget what is necessary

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Before my first time traveling alone the only advice I remember getting was, "be careful." Then, I thought that was the only advice I really needed, but as I am two weeks away from my trip back to Thailand I cannot help but not remember everything I wish someone had told me. Here are 5 things I wish I was told before my first time traveling alone that I hope can help someone in the future:

1. Keep up with personal hygiene.

So, you would think this was a no-brainer but this definitely slipped my mind after spending 26 hours flying and running through airports. My two biggest concerns were missing my flights and the language barriers, so much so I had completely forgot about my personal hygiene. Not until I made it to the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand did I realize how bad I smelled.

I was not only embarrassed that I had forgotten to change my clothes or brush my teeth, but I completely forgot about the people who had to, unfortunately, sit next to me. Now that I am a lot wiser from that unfortunate lesson, I think back, how could someone forget to change their clothes? Even underwear? Yes. Somehow when I tell that story I get nothing but gross looks, but really, who remembers changing underwear when you're flying to Asia alone? But I am here to be your reminder, change your clothes and brush your teeth.

2. You need to talk to strangers.

Being 20 years old and flying alone, I still heard "don't talk to strangers." But somehow, without the few strangers I did talk to, I wouldn't have made it. I talked to people in every airport I was in but it wasn't until I made it to Bangkok that I had enough time to hear stories. When I arrived I changed into my college shirt and met a couple that attended a college a few hours from where I went. They spotted me out because of the shirt I was wearing. They are flight attendants and they use their free time to travel together. I met another couple while asking for directions to a specific spot who told me that they had met while the man was traveling alone. He told me that my courage to travel alone was going to be one of the best things that will ever happen to me. And I also met a guy, who was 21 at the time, who had quit school to travel across Asia for 3 months. We had so much in common and his excitement to travel alone and meet new people was so inspiring.

Although going through 5 different airports and crying because I missed a flight isn't what I would say is "fun", meeting strangers and stepping outside of my comfort zone to talk to them had to be one of the best parts of my trip. I am not excited about the flight time, but I am excited for all the people I am going to meet while in airports.

3. Prepare yourself for any and all language barriers.

My first time traveling alone was to Thailand. As exciting and independent as I thought this was, you bet your ass I was crying wishing I had my parents there to help me. Thailand? That was, in essence, a mistake. On my flight to Shanghai, China the lady I sat next to was Asian. That gave me a piece of all I was about to endure for the next three airports. And trust me, it was as miserable as it sounds. I had missed my flight to Koh Samui, Thailand because of language and the flight back was just as bad even had using the lessons I learned going.

So, when I say "prepare yourself" I mean understand that there will be language barriers. Even if someone can speak English that does not necessarily mean that they understand what they or you are saying. I have realized that some airport employees know enough to get by or try to be of help, but do not get frustrated as it isn't their responsibility to know all that you are saying. Just be prepared and get familiar with the airport.

4. Adjusting to time.

I knew what I was getting myself in when it came to time but I didn't really "know". Not until I arrived and had dinner with my grandpa, his wife, and their friends and was jet-lagged, did I realize how hard it was to adjust to time. Actually, my grandpa called me a couple of days before my trip back and said, "Remember, you cannot sleep once you get here. You have to stay up." I have been dreading it ever since.

But I had prepared myself more than I thought when I came back from Thailand, I came home around 10 p.m Saturday night and was asleep until 6 p.m Sunday night. But even after two days in Thailand, adjusting to time wasn't all that difficult but something that I should have been more mindful of. As much as I am dreading it now, I know what to keep in mind and what I have to look forward to.

5. Be as open-minded as possible.

One thing I did my best to remember is that this trip is not just about me but those I can learn from. This is especially important when traveling to a country that handles everything in a different manner than your own. Thailand is different in religion, in politics, in morals and values, and natives are not as privileged as those who tour. They don't have as much freedom as I do or a percentage of others who tour there as well. I had to keep in mind that I couldn't openly talk about the government or give personal opinions on how they handle things within their own government. Which is understandable, but others don't get that.

Be open-minded when it comes to your own country versus the country in which you hope to travel to. Respect cultural values, morals, and mannerisms. It's important to know when and how you can disrespect natives so that it doesn't happen or could potentially happen.

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19 Things Wisconsinites Say And Do Differently

Wisconsinites are a breed of their own.
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Wisconsinites are a breed of their own. They are used to living in the frozen tundra for multiple months out of the year, they are the only state to have an NFL team owned by their fans, and they're surrounded by nature. To say they're a breed of their own is an understatement! Here are 19 things Wisconsinites say and do that have to be explained to people that aren't from around here.

SEE ALSO: 15 Signs You Go To UWGB

1. "Bag"

My mom, who lives in Illinois, always teases me about how I say the word "bag." Us Wisconsinites say bag like how it's pronounced in the word bagel, but pretty much any other state says it with a short a sound, like in the word "sad."

2. Packers Game Day is Serious Business

3. We Measure Distance in Time, Not Miles

This is especially true for people that live in rural parts of the state because the closest town is so far away that it's easiest to measure distance in the amount of time it takes to get there, rather than the number of miles away it is.

4. "Up North"

"Up north" isn't a specific town or location, but we all know what it is. When someone's talking about going up north they're usually talking about a cabin in the woods near a lake somewhere in the northern part of Wisconsin. If you were to draw a straight line across the state from Eau Claire to Green Bay pretty much anything north of that is considered "up north." Your definition of "up north" depends on where you live because the people that live in Eau Claire's "up north" is probably going to be further north than the people living in Madison's "up north."

5. "Ya Know"

I don't really know why we are the only ones that say "ya know", but whenever I say it when I'm not in Wisconsin I get called out on it.

6. Rifle Season is a State Holiday

In Wisconsin, you either go deer hunting, or you know someone that does, so it's not a surprise that the week of rifle season (the same week as thanksgiving) all of the hunters take off work to go hunting. Opening weekend is known as widowers weekend because it's when all of the husbands go off hunting and the wives have the house to themselves. Many stores also have special sales and events in preparation for rifle season.

7. Going to a Home Packer Game is on Your Bucket List

It's on everybody's bucket list to go to a home Packers game, but going to a home game can be kind of pricey. But once you've been to one it's so worth the money. It's definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

8. Friday Night Fish Fry

Wisconsin is the only state I know of where a Friday fish fry every Friday are a normal thing. Pretty much everywhere else they only have a fish fry during lent, but Wisconsin took this religious event and turned it into an all year tradition.

9. We Have Town Names That Are Hard to Pronounce

If you're not from Wisconsin you probably have a hard time pronouncing names like Oconomowoc, Ashwaubenon, Sheboygan, and Weyauwega just to name a few. Trust me, we've all been there!

10. "Soda"

Our neighbors to the south call it pop, but we call sugary carbonated beverages soda.

11. We Are Too Nice

Whenever my mom comes to visit me at school she always asks why the people in Wisconsin are so nice. I can never come up with a reasonable explanation, but it's true. Wisconsin is filled with nice people. You can be talking to a stranger at the grocery tore, but feel like you're talking to a friend.

12. "Brett Favre"

If you bring his name up in conversation in Wisconsin there's sure to be some controversy. Wisconsinites either love him for everything he did while playing for the Packers, or they hate him because he left the Packers and played for two other teams, including our rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.

13. "Bubbler"

Since I was raised in Illinois I'd never heard of a bubbler until I moved here. What I'd call a water fountain, Wisconsinites call a bubbler.

14. We Are The Nation's Dairy Land

California might say they make the most milk, but we all know Wisconsin is our nation's real dairyland.

15. Brats Are Better Than Hotdogs

If you haven't had a brat you have to try one!

16. The Winter Doesn't Stop Us

Since winter usually lasts for five months or more in Wisconsin, we have to get used to the cold in the snow. We've dealt with it so much that it doesn't stop us from going about our day. Many of us even enjoy winter activities such as snowmobiling, skiing, or ice fishing. When you have winter for such a long period of time like we do you have to learn to deal with it.

17. We Take Our Beer Very Seriously

There are over 100 breweries across Wisconsin and they all offer a unique taste to their beer. You can probably find any type of beer you can think of in Wisconsin.

18. And Our Cheese

I've never been to another state that has so many different varieties of cheese. Pretty much anything you can think of they at least have it somewhere. If you've never tried fresh cheese curds it's a must! Squeaky fresh curds are the best!

19. We Could Never Imagine Living Anywhere Else

The most important thing about us Wisconsinites is we love our state and we never want to leave!

This state comes with its own unique set of traditions and mechnasisms which help it stand apart from other states. Wisconsinites are definitely one-of-a-kind, and we would not want to have it any other way.

SEE ALSO: 17 Undeniable Signs You Go To The University Of Wisconsin

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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A Letter To My Friends When I'm Abroad

To some of the most important people in my life

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Dear Friends,

I'm sure you know that studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for me. The ability to immerse myself in a different country with different people, culture, and lifestyle will enable me to grow tremendously. And while you know how exciting this can be, it also causes me to feel a lot of confusing emotions. Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic to study abroad next semester, but as my departure date gets closer and closer, the reality of leaving also sets in. It is starting to hit me that I will be gone for an entire semester. It means that I won't be there for every wonderful thing you will experience in the fall, from movie nights to lunch dates to nights out.

In the next couple of weeks, I will have to exchange some goodbyes "see you later"s with you. And before the summer is over, I will be living in a new place for three and a half months...5,800 miles away. A part of me wonders how I will be able to handle the time and distance apart from you since you are some of the most important people in my life right now. Realistically, it may be difficult to communicate sometimes, but I hope this does not affect anything. I still want to hear about all your crazy stories, including funny stories from class, interesting questions you were asked on a tour, and whatever interesting events are happening on campus. Make sure to keep me in the loop. I hope you never forget that I am always a text away, and I expect to have some quality FaceTime sessions with you, no matter wherever you are in the world.

Although I know you are also upset to not see me for an entire semester, you are constantly supporting me. Just so you know, that support means the absolute world to me. Even though I may feel sad to leave Villanova for a semester, you keep me grounded, reminding me that studying abroad will be an amazing experience. You encourage me to live my best life abroad, and I know you will always be rooting for me despite the oceans that separate us. Just as I will be cheering for you nearly 6,000 miles away, ensuring that you too are living your best life.

Thank you for always believing in me.

With love,

Juliana

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