Finding Yourself (in the world)

Happy Sunday!

It is a good and “bleh” feeling to be back in London after a whirlwind week in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have to say, if there is another city that I fell in love with, and could see myself living in, it is København!

It is an amazing city, with lots to see and do, especially around the capital area, where I took day trips to Roskilde and Helsingør as well as to the nearby country of Sweden, to a little town called Malmö (pronounced mal-mer). I even started speaking the language, which is English, by the way. Many Danes and Swedes speak English with a near flawless American-like accent.

Back in action in the U.K, I have moved the logistics part of my research project further and now its back-to-school time for me, this included enrollment (and vaccines!), and setting my hours for my job on campus. However, the beautiful and scorching sun of London made it a bit hard to concentrate on political theory this week, instead I’ve been daydreaming of my new beach-read while breaking in a new swimsuit in the sands of Brighton.

Nonetheless, as I reflect on my trips to Europe and this year in general, I seem to find something out about myself everyday. For example, I love to travel (always knew that) but I didn’t realize how spontaneous or flexible I could be. I was so busy, up until the night before I left, I didn’t have time to plan what I wanted to see or do in Denmark. Heck, I barely had enough time to pack and am lucky that I remembered to bring enough underwear (#1 rule in packing folks, bring one day’s extra). So I spent my first night talking with a few locals, and that is how I found out going to Sweden, and continued to talk to folks on the street about where to find the best places for food and a drink. Each day, I had a new plan on where to go, what to see, and how to do it.

I also learned some basic pronunciations for those weird letters that are not in the English alphabet (ø, æ, å…), so I can at least pronounce street names and train stations in a more coherent way when asking for directions. But don’t let that scare you if you decide to visit, it’s really easy to get around even with the conventional tourist map, and downtown is so small, that if you do get lost, keep walking you’ll get there!

On a sad note, I also learned that Disney’s little mermaid is a lie! Well, yes, I know it is a fictional story, but the version by Hans Christian Andersen is so different…I almost cried after reading the summary at his museum.

So, I guess answering the headline of this post, did I finally “find me”? No. I’m still lost. I didn’t find anyone else either. But it did change my feelings about London, in that I no longer feel so new or foreign in London.


My first night in Copenhagen, I had a few doubts about my landing in a strange country without any research or knowledge; it was the very first time that I missed London. Not New York, but London. It was a familiar chest-achy feeling of being away from home and all the people you love, hate, and miss. This brings me to a second revelation that I may love, hate, and miss people or things in the U.K…

Anyway, without hashing through all of that, my experience so far in Europe has been amazing to see how people live on the other side of the Atlantic. Not that Brits, Scandinavians, or the French have a drastically different quality of life or standard of living — we are pretty much the same. However, attitudes and perspectives about life, people, and humanity are different and eye-opening. As a generalization, the attitude is more “work to live” instead of “live to work” Brits eat way worse and drink way more than the Americans, but have more longevity (according to World Bank), so…it could be something in the water.

However, speaking of humanity, I can’t ignore the tragic incidences that took place in Europe and the United States this summer, it is a pause to see how folks around the world reacted. The same beaches that I visited in southern France wearing a sundress (I didn’t have my swimsuit) and reading a book in the sand for hours, are now being patrolled by policemen for (mainly) women dressed in attire that does not “respect the culture and secular nature” of France. And the wave of unarmed shootings in the United States in July that also reignited a national conversation and exposed some very ugly structures in the our country.

However, this is winding into another topic that I wanted to save for my birthday post next week, so I will leave it here for today. Enjoy this sunset picture of the Langelinie promenade in the Copenhagen. Tell me about your breath-taking experience, @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.

4 New Year’s Resolutions for 20-Something Girls

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Any day is a great opportunity to make a positive change. But the New Year in particular is the most exciting time to envision a better future. Cozy up with a latte or pour a glass of red wine, hit “play” on your favorite Spotify playlist and spend some quality time declaring your resolutions for the next 12 months. Here are four ideas to inspire New Year’s resolutions for the 20-something girl who wants to make every year of this defining decade count.

Personal Challenge

Make this the year you break free from fear and insecurity. Life’s too short to not take risks, be adventurous or test your limits. Are you watching life pass by in a personal safety zone, surrounded by cushy comforts and mediocrity? It’s terrifying to think about what you want deep down inside, but be too afraid to go after it.

Turn your “Wanderlust” Pinterest board into a reality and plan a backpacking trip to Europe for real. Prove to yourself you can train to run a marathon and cross the finish line. Have fun dating men who aren’t necessarily your type, and blog about it. Be open and fearless. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Challenge yourself.

Financial Commitment

A financial resolution to save for a trip, build up a savings account or pay off debt can seem close to impossible. If you’re like the typical 20-something, an entry-level income allows you to just get by, if that. Practice healthy money habits now to help you establish smart finances in the long-term.

Millennials are branded as the generation of entitlement. Commit to saving a certain amount of money each week. Truly save your credit card for emergencies. Help prove that all Gen Y-ers aren’t broke and entitled narcissists who take extravagant trips and buy expensive gadgets with nonexistent money. Schedule an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account. You can also use apps like the Mint to help budget and DebtTracker Pro for following a debt payoff plan.

Wardrobe Rehab

Your 20s are a time of transition. Shopping should become more about quality over quantity and developing style over showing skin. You’re striving to impress your work colleagues, not your sorority sisters. If you’ve got a closet overflowing with college hoodies, party dresses and hot tops for bar hopping, a major wardrobe overhaul can come at a high cost.

Approach rebuilding your wardrobe as a year-long project and vow to make smart, purposeful purchases. Gradually replace items of your former self with classic pieces that are sophisticated and sustainable. Keep on eye on basics in neutral tones like black, white and cream. Indulge in few luxuries like a beautiful Rolex watch and Coach designer handbag are timeless accessories for everlasting style.

Strengthened Relationships

The people we love the most tend to be the ones we take most for granted. The 20s can be a “me” decade dedicated to your wants, needs and desires. Are you guilty of texting Mom superficial messages to make up for calling her less? Do you love your friends to their face and gossip about them behind their backs? Has your romantic relationship become routine and dull? Is your relationship with yourself self-deprecating and damaging?

Resolve to strengthen your most significant relationships, whether you connect with your family more meaningfully, tighten your social circle or decide to fly solo. Most important is the relationship you have with yourself. If that’s suffering, practice self-care, self-respect and unconditional love. Learn to treat yourself kindly with positivity and be your own best friend.

P.S – Welcome to my 200th post on The Reporter and The Girl!!

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5 Remarkable Date Ideas for Couples in (or Approaching) a Rut

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If you are part of a couple, you know how important it is to keep the relationship alive. And the longer you’re in a relationship, the harder you have to work to keep an element of excitement in it. The best way to do that? A great date. Not the, “You wanna go the movies?” date–we’re talking about a unique adventure date you’ll never forget. Here, then, are five exceptional date ideas:

Rent a Convertible and Take a Mini Road Trip

Choose a destination and activity (i.e., eat at a restaurant in a nearby town, go to a remote area and have a picnic) and then rent a convertible for the day. Make sure the destination is far enough away that it gives you a chance to talk. Don’t forget rental car insurance before booking that convertible, it’s cheaper than getting it at the counter. And of course, make sure the weather forecast is in your favor.

Book a Couples Massage as Part of a Spa Package

Even really macho guys enjoy a good massage, and getting one together is a bonding and relaxing experience. Get a spa package that includes amenities like champagne and rose petals. Some spas include a treatment prior to the massage, such as a soak in a hydrotherapy tub.

It’s a time to play, before relaxing on the table!

Take a Surprise Trip to Las Vegas

Surprise your other half with a trip to Las Vegas. You can always find discount flights to Vegas, and you’re guaranteed to have a blast. Just make sure you take enough money. And if you’re lucky, you’ll also make enough there too!

Head to the Drive-In

Drive-ins are making a comeback. Take some fold-up patio chairs (if you want to sit in front of your car) or some blankets (in case you want to be, um, more intimate inside the car or in the back of your truck). You can also bring popcorn, soda and a cooler, if you don’t want to spend the money on stuff to eat.

Take a Midnight Cruise

It doesn’t have to be at midnight, by the way. You can always take a sunset cruise, as well. Google “midnight cruise” or whatever kind you want and your city. Some cruises have live music and dancing; often the ships have two to three decks, and the top one is for you and the moon. Don’t forget to make a reservation, too, as these types of boat cruises tend to get full quickly. You can also read about my experience on one of these cruises!

Make It a Habit

Every couple gets caught up in their own routine. Somehow, we forget that we need time together as a couple. Consider scheduling a regular “doesn’t get canceled no matter what” date i.e., once a week or once a month. There are plenty of dates you can go on and have a good time; try to go on ones where you will have an incredible time. More importantly, make sure you don’t forget to go on dates at all.

Top 4 American Cities for Starting Over

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Life is a journey, and for many of us our journey takes us to new and vibrant places for a handful of reasons across the span of our lifetime such as landing a dream job, starting a family, or moving on to the next chapter in life. For those who are looking for a fresh place to hang their hats, the following four American cities are wonderful places to start over.

Anchorage, Alaska

From its awe-inspiring scenic beauty and relatively low unemployment rate to its strong local economy, Anchorage is a top city to live and work. For people looking to elevate their careers, consider that over a quarter of the companies in Anchorage are planning on hiring new workers, with job prospects in the financial, construction, education, leisure and health service industries being especially strong, according to MSN. Job seekers who are looking for a new career and a promising job market are sure to do well with a move way up north. Forget the all-work no-play mentality—Anchorage is a great for location for outdoor enthusiasts to play—hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, and other outdoor adventures wait outside of your door each day if you move to this city.

I lived in Anchorage for a short period and have thought about going back to get away from things.

Johnson City, Tennessee

For people who have had enough of sky-high rents and astronomical grocery bills, The Volunteer State offers a very low cost of living. Tennessee has no income tax and is second to only Oklahoma for its budget-friendly living expenses, according to Business Insider. Known as Tennessee’s Green City, Johnson City has earned top honors, receiving the state’s first Green City Leadership award for its environmental efforts. Eco-conscious folks who relocate to Tennessee will find that the rent or mortgage on their new home is so reasonable, they will have plenty of wiggle room in the budget for home improvement projects, such as adding green features like energy efficient windows, new roofing, and custom doors to their new abode.

Phoenix, Arizona

Although the capital of Arizona was hit especially hard during the recent recession, the city is bouncing back to be better than ever. Many homes are now available at extremely reasonable prices and people ages 20-29 are flocking to this city. Phoenix is also home to a number of major corporations, including Intel, PetSmart, Motorola, and top employers include Bank of America and Wal-Mart. Granted, Phoenix gets pretty toasty in the summer with temperatures that easily top 110 degrees on some days, but as former Northeasterners who now call Phoenix home like to say, “You don’t have to shovel sunshine.” The weather is gorgeous for the majority of the year, the employment outlook is positive, and there’s a plethora of fantastic restaurants and a rich culture—all of these things help make Phoenix a great place for young people to reinvent themselves.

Bethesda, Maryland

Moms and dads who hold education in high regard and wouldn’t mind switching careers should consider Bethesda, Maryland. The area has an exceptionally low unemployment rate of around 5 percent, which is over 2 points lower than the national average, according to Forbes. In addition, the housing market is very strong, and the state is listed as number one in the entire country for its school systems. Boasting a great quality of life, Bethesda often appears on on lists ranking the livability of top cities, making this town an excellent place to live.