Shutterstock / VGstockstudio
Shutterstock / VGstockstudio

When Americans venture out of the states, we have a hovering red, white, and blue flag indicating “foreigner.” Whether it’s wanderlust from first time travelers or naively ignoring cultural norms, it takes no genius to spot an American abroad. With this being said, we need to take extra caution to avoid being scammed and squandered. I don’t know all the tricks or treats out there, but a little research will help avoid trials and tribulations.

1. Know the dress code.

To avoid sticking out like a sore thumb or offending any cultural par, try to blend in. In Morocco it’s still unacceptable for many women to expose their body. Sporting shorts or short sleeves will peg you as a rich westerner. You’ll be overwhelmed with locals offering to guide you to your destination, luring you into their shops, or any other service for an expectedly generous compensation. I’m not saying to buy a Djellaba or a head piece, but respect their culture, and make yourself seem less naive by exposing less skin.

2. People watch.

Take time to observe how people interact- you’ll notice some patterns. Pay attention to details- what areas or interactions do they avoid or attract to? A friend ventured to Paris for the first time was intrigued by a gambling game on the street near the Eiffel Tower. A woman playing was up by a good amount of money, so he took his chances only to lose 0 a half hour into his voyage. A vender later told him they’re scam artists. A humbling experience to say the least.

3. Know the public transportation.

When arriving into a new city, it’s overwhelming and easy to get lost. Instead of hopelessly hopping in the nearest cab and spending several times what you’d save using a bus or metro, plan ahead and seek out the most common and efficient way to commute. Many places will overcharge tourists thinking they’re rich and ignorant. Download a metro or bus app on your phone, or screen shot google map routes. You’ll be less of a target.

4. Know some common phrases in the native language.

While English is spoken sufficiently in many cities, approaching everyone in English is perceived as rude and arrogant. We expect foreigners to speak English when they come to the states, so don’t be a hypocrite. It’s also unrealistic to expect everyone to speak English, so know some common phrases that can help you get by combined with some hand and facial gestures. When abroad, you’re an ambassador for your native country. Make us look good!

5. Shop local!

If everyone who came to New York only saw Times Square, they’d have no idea what real life is like in New York City. They’d be overcharged to drink, eat, and buy souvenirs and miss out on the best views. Don’t make the same mistakes! Find out the best local places by talking to locals. If you’re acquainted with someone living there, or meet people by attending a couch-surfing get together. You don’t need to invade their couch to indulge in their city. The only way to know a culture is to know the people who carry it. Sight-seeing a destination does not mean you’ve experienced it! You can sit on your couch for that.

6. Talk to other travelers.

Travelers are the hunters and gatherers of our world. Strike up a conversation and ask about their experience in the destination. “A smart man learns from his mistakes, a wise man learns from others.”

It’s easy to get wrapped up in wonder when in a new city, but don’t fall so much in love that you become blind. Yes, there are genuinely generous people, but remember don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Whether or not you end up enjoying a destination depends largely on your experience. While I can’t guarantee things going perfect, I can guarantee your reaction will be much more rational the more prepared you are. TC mark

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Shutterstock / Racheal Grazias
Shutterstock / Racheal Grazias

1. You will find “your people”

As you’ve heard, everybody finds that one significant figure in their life that becomes their “person” whether it be their boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend. And as you may also know, field hockey is one of the few women’s sports where 20 some-odd girls can come together and become a family, so to speak, as if they’ve known each other for decades. Its an indescribable event and it’s one that can’t be taken granted of. Playing field hockey at the college level becomes life consuming and you find yourself spending countless hours with these girls you may have only met a month ago. These girls will, and i promise you they will, become “your people”.

2. You’ll be in the kind of shape you didn’t think was physically possible

One to two weeks doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’ve been anticipating these one to two weeks all summer, you start to feel somewhat uneasy. Yes, I am talking about preseason. It is an unimaginable amount of exercise that your body has never faced before and you will be damn proud when you finally come out of it. And you’ll be amazed that you survived.

3. Sleeping becomes something you dream about

Ironically enough, dreaming about sleep will become a life habit. You’ll never be as tired as you are during season and I don’t just mean physically. I am talking about mentally and emotionally exhausted, as well. You will break down at some point whether it be after you fail the test you didn’t study for due to a late night game, or on the field when you miss trap one simple pass and it becomes a turnover. It’s okay, you can cry. We’ve all been there before.

4. You will make at least one mistake

This is college people, we are here to mess up. Nobody is perfect and people do make mistakes, believe it or not. However, the only way to fully recover is to learn from those mistakes and use them to prove to yourself and the people around you that you are indeed better than the person you have been. Your coach will be disappointed in you at some point of your career and that is okay! You are not perfect and you have room for improvement. Everybody does.

5. School becomes more stressful than you could imagine

Think about the amount of stress you had junior year of high school deciding which college you wanted to spend the next 4 years of your life at. Well, you’re here and you can multiply that stress level by 300 and there you have the life of a student-athlete. Balancing the 6 pm night game at a school 3 hours away, and the test you have the next morning at 8 am is a huge challenge. But you’ll manage and you’ll push through the class with a B because your professor will see that at least you were trying.

6. Some of your professors will be hard on you

It’s not easy to be a student-athlete and former student-athletes will understand. However, the grumpy old farts that only went to college to get a degree, will be hard on you and may treat you more harshly than other students because you might have to miss a class or two for a game. And then you might have to miss another class or two due to lack of sleep. The semester is only 16 weeks and they won’t even cross your mind after you finish the class. So don’t sweat it when he/she calls you out in front of everyone for not being in class last week.

7. Four years will go by in the blink of an eye

Freshman year seems like it’s never going to end until all of a sudden you’re looking for a house to call your own and you’ll think, “Where has the time gone?” It sounds cliche, but it’s the downright truth. Your days will be packed between classes and practice that you can’t even remember what day of the week it is and then it becomes next month and then the seasons change and it’s the next year. Suddenly, your senior day has come and you’re about to play your last field hockey game on your home turf for the last time of your career. And you won’t be able to think of a better way to have spent the last 4 years of your life. TC mark

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Anxiety, to me, is the tightness I feel in between the base of my neck and my shoulder blades. It’s when my mind runs a thousand miles an hour and I have to sit down and write to process my thoughts, it’s constantly tapping and moving, it’s staying up late at night because something has me nervous, or spooked, or worried. It is having trouble stepping outside of myself and seeing a situation for what it is. It is constant repetition and layers on layers of creating ridiculous situations that wont happen. Anxiety means not making sense, it’s having friends who struggle to keep up with rapid fire thoughts and statements. It’s reading this paragraph as fast as you can and stumbling over words but your mind wont let you stop.

Anxiety is figuring out how to deal with it.

It means sitting down in the middle of the day with a notebook asking myself these questions about the things I’m worrying about:

1.What’s the evidence for the situation? Why do I feel this way?

2.What’s the worst or best thing that could come from the situation?

3.What would I say to a friend that came to me with the same situation?

4. Am I creating a worse case scenario and calling it “being realistic?”

It means planning out an extra half an hour before bed to think about my day and what stress can be dealt with and released.

It means doing yoga, focusing on breathing, and practicing visualization.

It means reading through the purple sheet my counselor gave me full of stress management techniques, and distressing just from laughing over the ridiculousness of some of them:

  • Watch boyfriend change oil (someone loan me a boyfriend..and a car?)
  • Square dance (no.)
  • Toilet Paper a house (illegal)
  • Hold a baby (anyone have a baby to offer me?)
  • Smoking (I’d probably get anxiety over the possibility of an early death)

It means doing things from the list that aren’t completely unfeasible:

  • Take a hot shower
  • Color
  • Mentor
  • Knit
  • Learn a new song on the guitar
  • Lay on the floor and focus on the music

Finally, having anxiety means working really really hard to remember, that at the end of the day you are okay, you have always been okay in tough situations, and you will be okay tomorrow. TC mark

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Shutterstock / Piotr Marcinski
Shutterstock / Piotr Marcinski
  1. Waiters that look like they are doing you a HUGE favor – bringing you the menus.
  2. Ticket salespeople who throw your money back at you.
  3. The man who pushes past you like he’s the only one in a hurry.
  4. Colleagues at work who seem to have no courtesies whatsoever in emails or phone calls, forgetting their please and thank yous or even hellos or good mornings.

Any of these situations sound familiar to you? Ever wanted to slam down the phone and just scream and shout profanities? Don’t. Not only will it increase your stress levels, it would make you become one of them! Read below on how to maintain your cool, in these frustrating situations. (Reactions from someone who has an allergy to rude people – seriously – my blood boils, my face turns red and I would almost break out in rashes of frustration – an unfortunate an easily triggered disease, I must admit!)

1. Assess the situation

  • Did you give them a reason to be rude to you? (ie. You yourself were rude and obnoxious?) If you were – please exit this page, this writer has no tolerance for people like you.
  • No? – sorry you had to experience this – kindly proceed to…

2. Do you need something from said rude person?

  • Yes – be patient, try to get what you need and try to avoid getting spit on your food or booked on a one way ticket to Alaska. There are many reasons as to why there could be tension – language barriers, bad weather. But only you are in control of your own actions – try to communicate clearly and firmly to get what you need. (Hint : hold that temper, and stress your Ts. (eg. That is noT The way I ordered IT) It’s a way of communication in which you tell people not to mess with you. – speaking with an exaggerated (fake) British accent sometimes gets me my way. I am not sure why, and I’m looking for someone to explain it to me.
  • No – Take a deep breath; and walk away. It’s not worth it

3. After receiving what you need (eg. Food / tickets/ answers to work related problems) – CHECK IT

  • Is it correct / sanitary? – say “thank you.” You asked for something, and you received it. It is the least you can do. More points to your conscience if you smile.
  • No? – time to change approach – look for anyone else around you – switch counters if you have to, ask for a different waiter. You are wasting your sanity on a person, for no reason at all. There is no one way of doing things – change your methods, and you might change you results.

4. The aftermath

  • After the whole incident, are you still fuming? That is okay. In this day in age you CAN express your dissatisfaction, passive aggressively. I am not encouraging this – However, it is a good solution for those of you who do not enjoy confrontation. This is where the beauty of the internet comes in. Write reviews! Give Stars! Rate them! Business thrive on their online presence, and if isn’t squeaky clean they can forget a visit from us millennials who are so eager to spread the word! – if anything you’ll be doing the world a favor. A shout out of gratitude to all you people who give honest reviews. Travelling would really not be same without you.

5. Finally

  • Breathe, count to three, and breathe again. You don’t know their story, maybe their dog just died, or they just got broken up over a post it. We cannot control the action of others, but we can control our reactions towards them. Smile, leave the minimum tip, and a gracious thank you. Show them, it does not help to be rude. And feel that much better – that instead of making someone’s day worse, you made it a whole lot brighter.

As the New Radicals once said, “You get what you give.” TC mark

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They say kids are your greatest teachers. But it’s not about quadratic equations, it’s about finding out how your own issues and pain create problems for those closest to you. And then hopefully, stopping the vicious cycle.

1. You are not entitled to any respect as a parent.

Most of us grew up under the auspices of ‘respect your elders’ for no good reason other than they were elders. You know — those people who make you do what you don’t want to do, those people who ignore your needs and those people who belittle your emotions. If you think that you ‘deserve’ respect from your children, then by definition, you are one of those people. That’s because feeling entitled to respect means you believe you are somehow innately superior and treat others as inferior. Just in case you didn’t get it, you are not superior.

Admiration is different; it is generated from free will and has nothing to do with any perceived superiority. It also fluctuates a lot for children. Today’s merited admiration maybe tomorrow’s dislike. That’s because children live in the present, which means they don’t hold grudges but neither do they recognize our manufactured concepts of ‘esteem and debt’. As for respect, you’re not entitled to it, now or ever. Try and force the issue and what you’ll get is brainwashed fear-ridden obedience, or anger and rebellion (or both).

South Park
South Park

Some people get awfully cross when you don’t respect their authoritah.

2. Your children have every right to be angry and upset for reasons you consider bullshit.

Perfectly logical adult acts and consequences — brushing your child’s teeth so that they don’t get cavities, wearing a thick coat when it’s minus 5 outside, or trying to get them to wee in the toilet instead of their knickers — will make them angry and upset. In their world they see that you have power to control even their most intimate decisions, and they can grow rather angry about this. You would be too. In fact you probably were, but you don’t remember it.

If you then get angry about it, your problem is that you need to be right (you consider that your anger is apparently valid, theirs is not). Let it go. Their emotions are perfectly valid – they are operating according to their survival instincts (indeed there would be something wrong if they weren’t getting angry and afraid that they are being controlled). If you tell them ‘there’s no reason to be angry’ they hear ‘it’s not okay to feel what I feel, and my feelings are not important.’  This leads to a fear of conflict in adulthood because anger is ‘wrong’.

Yes it’s a tantrum because it IS their end of the world. Be the bigger person (you are after all). Which leads to…

3. Punishment through isolation, means you also have control issues.

Do you walk away when your child is angry? Do you punish them by saying ‘go to your room’ (like most parents did)? The reason parents walk away is most often because they can’t win (and that pisses them off). But they can ‘win’ by making their children sad. You can punish them and try to get your will through by isolating them. Not only are you showing that their anger is not valid, but you are trying to ‘control’ the situation by withdrawing your love.

Children perceive that you love them conditionally (because that’s what you’re showing).  The person they depend on for survival is taking away their love and support. If you aren’t seething and seeing (literally) red from them wiping their raspberry dipped fingers on your new white sofa … let them know that you are angry at what they did, not at them. If you need to calm down, tell them that and that you love them. If you withdraw too often it leads to a fear of abandonment and fear of conflict (see point 2).

Also, never buy a white sofa if you have kids. It means you’re a perfectionist and control freak.


This is not a white sofa. It’s a red warning flag.

4. Time is an artificial concept which is unimportant. Your child knows this, but you have forgotten.

If you haven’t yet realized the unimportance of time, you are probably hurrying your child to school, hurrying them home, hurrying them on the train operating according to an artificial schedule and trying to force your family into a rigidly controlled system. Ours. The one we built.

It’s not really your fault. It’s what you’ve been taught. Being late is obviously a sign of disorganization and disrespect which is something you – as an adult – are entitled to (see above). But perhaps your child likes to spend time looking at flowers on the way to her school (where it is the end of the world as we know it, if they are not there at 9 sharp). Minutes seem like hours when you have some place to be. And yet, if you let the natural curiosity of life unfold without an agenda, it can be joyful for both of you.

If you are bound by time you might remember that this is not of your child’s own making. She is not at fault. Make time to walk so that you can have those joyous world-exploring times (and try not to suddenly remember something terribly important you should be doing instead – this is driven by your own fear of doing something so completely alien as ignoring time).

5. The Journey is more Important than the Outcome

You think that sticking those scribbles with magnets onto your fridge shows your child how proud you are of their Picasso-like inclinations. It doesn’t.

They don’t care about it, because their pleasure was in the doing. As we cling or worse, frame our favourite documentation of our children’s achievements so we teach them that the outcome is more important than the journey. The result is more important than the effort expended, the pleasure experienced and the time sacrificed.

A whole generation of corporate executives are going through mid-life crisis right now because the next promotion doesn’t satisfy them (clue it was never for them, it is for you). Outcomes temporarily please. But they do little fill the void of insecurity created by our great parenting (and our parents great parenting). Which means you should…

6. Value People for who They Are not What they Do (for you)

Are your proud of your Violet Beauregarde? Do you express your love through encouragement and praise for her accomplishments? Would you love her even if she wasn’t the world record holder for gum chewing? Oh you would? Chances are, she doesn’t know that though…

If you show your child that you value her achievements without making it clear that you also value her as a person, she will understand that to earn your love she has to achieve. Worse still, you don’t even have to criticize her, for her to know that if she doesn’t achieve, the love might be withdrawn. That’s because our minds are responsible for conceptualizing danger before it actually happens. Most people don’t need to be squashed by a truck to realize that it would in fact, hurt.

We most often speak about what our kids do, not who they are. What did you do at school today? What a lovely painting! Well done for finishing your dinner. They will link their sense of self-worth to their achievements…and turn into workaholics not able to ever achieve enough to gain any sense of self worth, or drifters who don’t even start because the challenge is too impossible.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Mummy bought me this pink tracksuit because she sees me as an extension of herself (when I win). TC mark

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I thought we could work things out, that we could be friends. I thought that after five years of wanting you, two and a half years of having you, and two years of letting you go, that I would be absolved of the part of my heart that has always belonged to you.

That’s not the case. Instead, that stoic and resolute chamber has become a library of lessons. As time goes on, I’ll dust them off and pull them out, leaf through their handwritten pages, on days when I feel like it was all for nothing, and during times when I need reminding of how good those years with you were — good for my growth, as a human and as a soul.

I run my finger along the spines of these well-read books. There are all the pivotal titles: “Communication is Key;” “You Get the Love You Think You Deserve;” “To Give of Yourself, You Must First be Full and Overflow.” 

All the classics.

But looking back, there are some other things that I learned from loving you. Things that, in their nuance, have become the dog-eared chapters I cherish most. 

1. I’ve learned that the promises we make don’t matter; it’s how we make those promises. A midnight drive to my house to meet and solve an argument –— that’s more of a promise than three apologetic paragraphs in my inbox. A whispered pledge, a ring, a social announcement: what do these mean compared to the way your voice lifts when you greet me good morning, and the softness at the corners of your eyes when we say goodnight? Your hand on my back as we cross a street; your attentive, invested silence as I hash out the workings of my troubled mind; your presence at occasions where I need support. These are the promises you make that matter.

2. I’ve learned that we can collect people in scents and in sounds. You’d better believe there are artists, albums, playlists, that I can no longer listen to. Songs we earmarked for the first dance at our wedding, others that were playing in coffee shops or nightclubs where we shared nervous touches and first intimacies. And there are some songs I will play purposely, digging into that space in my mind where the memory throbs, still raw. Sometimes when I’m out shopping, I’ll reach for that frosted bottle with the silver text and turn the perfume aisle into our high school hallway. Suddenly, I’m leaning against my locker, chewing my hair; and there you are, in your ironic, adolescent grace. It makes me weak in the knees. I feel a lump in my throat. And then I smile. I can, finally, replace the bottle cap, skip to the next song. 

3. I’ve learned that affection is a language, and to become fluent you need to practice. There is an art in reading expressions, noticing tones of voice, reacting to the length of a sentence… and responding with the question of a perfectly placed hand, the phrase of a grateful kiss, the soothing ellipsis of a much-needed neck massage. This language of our bodies and gestures is the undercurrent beneath the surface of verbal communication; it is the radiowave carrying our words from heart to heart. I learned that when you tune in to that signal, you can become fluent in each other. 

4. Above all, I’ve learned that I have learned. You have been my teacher. Sometimes you were bossy, sometimes passive-aggressive. Sometimes I had to drag the solutions out of questions you never asked; sometimes the lessons were the questions themselves. Navigating through the volumes of our relationship wasn’t always easy, but now I know I have taken what I can from every experience we shared — and from the aftermath of our separation — and am wiser for it. Just like the music really hits you in the silence after the last notes, or the story shakes you to your bones after the endpapers fall across your fingers, the impact of what you taught me resonates with me now that I am full, alone, and whole. TC mark

featured image – ►►haley / Flickr

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