I Wanted To Go Some Place Warm So I Made It Happen

When In Greece...

A recap of my trip to the most beautiful place on the planet, Greece.

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One night last semester I was laying in bed, watching the snow slowly pile up outside my window. Classes were already canceled for the next day and everything was grey. In attempts to escape the confines of my dorm room I felt like a prisoner in because of the storm, I imagined myself somewhere warm, somewhere free.

And then, I made it happen.

I cannot give the credit to myself entirely; my boyfriend's family living in Greece greatly helped the budgeting and realistically of the trip. But, after one night, I was determined to travel to the other side of the world. That was the very end of March. About two months later, in the very beginning of June, my boyfriend and I were climbing the slippery steps of the Acropolis and sipping cocktails on beaches in Santorini and Andros.

Greece, deservingly so, is a destination on many adventurers bucket lists. it has everything you could imagine, a remarkably rich history, breathtaking views that almost seemed too beautiful to be able to exist, wild nightlife, hiking, theatre, and about anything else you could think of.

Our trip was perfect in the fact that we saw the historic sectors, the touristy areas, and then dove into the authentic Greek island life, learning mass amounts about the culture and people of this oasis.

First, we arrived in Athens. To make things cheaper we stayed in a hostel. Do not let the stereotypes and horror stories turn you away. If you do your research and go through websites like hostelworld.com, you will likely find an affordable yet lovely place to stay. Many even offer private rooms!

In Athens, we walked all throughout the ancient city. Modern architecture is scattered around ruins from BC times. It truly is a place like no other. Obviously, we saw the Acropolis and ate enough Greek salad for a lifetime.

Next, we took a ferry to Santorini. We were not the most organized and were honestly slightly just winging it, so we ended up having to wait a couple hours for the next ferry to take us to the tourist-packed but beyond the real island of Santorini. When you Google pictures of Greece, the blue domed churches are likely some of the first images to appear.

The three domes are in Oia, the tip of Santorini. Here, we rented an ATV and drove all around the island. We relaxed on black sand beaches and met people from all over the world in nightclubs. There were wine tours and opportunities to do anything you could dream all the while overlooking the bluest water you could imagine.


Lastly, we took another ferry to Andros. Less touristy but just as, if not more beautiful, Andros is a fishing island. My boyfriends family lives in a little port area called Batsi. The beach is the center of the town and all the shops and restaurants border the crystal clear, strikingly blue water. It was here that I really was engulfed in Greek culture.

Every meal was eaten as a family and began with "Yamas!" or "Cheers!" Hugs and kisses were as common as handshakes and high-fives. In Andros, and Greek culture in general, things moved slower and time with friends and family was the paramount institution.

We swam for hours and visited other villages around the island. Everywhere you went, a theme of love and genuine happiness was ubiquitous. The natives just wanted you to love their stunning home as much as they did.

All in all, my trip to Greece was more than I could have ever imagined. It allowed me to grow as a person and deepened my independence. It granted me more sights of beauty and wonder that I thought possible for this world and opened my perspective to just how small we really are. Make your opportunity to travel. It is possible and it is beyond worth it.

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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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