Category Archives: work life

around the world and back again.

Somehow I blinked and all of my anticipated travel came and went. With the exception of two trips to NYC in the next couple of months, I’m officially done traveling for the year.

I wish I had made an effort to write about my trips in a timely manner. I’m only sitting down now to write something down because all of my trips over the last seven months have been so important to me. I’ve passed through countries I didn’t know I would ever see. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far and look forward to planning future trips, both locally and internationally.

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I loved Rome so much more than I thought I would. It’s big and beautiful and busy. The best gelato I will ever have is in Rome; it’s so good I went a total of three times in the span of a few days. We saw the sights you’re told to see, the structures that have stood the test of time. But I think my favorite moments in this city were just wandering around, lounging on steps in Trastevere or exploring Pigneto, where our Airbnb was. And it goes without saying that the food is amazing. Even on our first night, when we arrived late and went to a small cafe around the corner to get dinner, it was so, so good.

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Our time in Florence was unfortunately marred by a stomach bug that left us both incapacitated for a chunk of our trip. We managed to get over it after a day and a half, thankfully. If anything, it’s reason enough to return to Florence someday to make up for lost time. I’m glad we chose to go to the Amalfi coast last, as it was a really relaxing way to end our honeymoon. My favorite memory of our last couple of days was walking up a steep hill in search of dinner and stumbling upon a restaurant with a beautiful view of Positano down below.

I thought two weeks was the perfect amount of time for this trip, even though it still went by insanely fast. Italy is everything I thought it would be and I’m glad we picked it as our honeymoon destination.

Then in late May/early June, I was in Seoul for a work trip:

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While I was on-site working the majority of the time I was there, it didn’t stop me and my co-workers from heading out every night to explore. Koreans are really nice and helpful; I had people come to my rescue on at least two separate occasions due to the language barrier. I only knew how to say hello and thank you; while that was helpful, it didn’t exactly bridge the gap. I arrived to Seoul a couple of days early and stayed a couple of days after my work assignment, which helped immensely with getting used to the time difference (14 hours!) and relaxing before the long journey home. I ate amazing food and bought a hilarious amount of Korean beauty products. Korea has never been high on the list of places I want to travel to in Asia, but I really enjoyed my time there. Seoul is so huge that there was no way to see everything, so I know I could easily go back and see new things.

Now it’s summer here in Chicago and my 30th birthday is a mere 20ish days away. Not that I’m counting or anything. I’m really glad I was able to fit in so much international travel before the big 3-0; it was an important milestone I wanted to hit before I leave my 20s. And I’m already planning potential trips in my mind for the next couple of years.

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getting back to writing again.

I am constantly writing. Almost every day, actually. I write letters, blog posts, emails, articles… you name it, I’ve probably done it in the last few months.

But all this writing has been for work, for others too busy to put together their own letters or speeches. So I do it for them.

I have been writing, just not for myself.

On both my laptop and on Google Drive, I have dozens of unfinished pieces, filled with half-formed thoughts. I’m almost afraid the same could happen to this blog post.

There’s things I want to say, but am afraid to share. So much of writing online these days is dealing with criticism. Some totally valid, but the majority can be harsh, or downright cruel. I struggle with the idea of putting my thoughts and ideals and values out there for a larger audience to read, only to have them tear me down for it.

I’ve always been expressive and open; when did I retreat into myself? Maybe it’s because I see how women are treated on social media and beyond, as well as minorities. I fall under both of those categories. Maybe it’s because I might react defensively whenever someone disagrees with me. Maybe it’s because for the first time in a long while, I’m concerned with what people–total strangers, in fact–think of me.

So maybe it’s more about treading water in the shallow end of the pool rather than forcing myself to dive in headfirst. In order to even extend slightly out of my comfort zone, I at least need to identify where my comfort zone begins and ends.

After my wedding, I cut off a significant chunk of my hair. More so than I thought I would, but I let my stylist coax me into it. She also suggested lightening up the ends, to create an ombre effect. She wanted to go dark blonde immediately and as someone who has only ever had dark brown hair (ok, and blue hair twice but that’s a totally different story), I panicked slightly at two drastic changes at once. I went with my gut and told her to not start with blonde, but a few shades darker so I could get used to it. A month later, I am and I kinda love it. I’ll be going back next week to let her finish the job.

So to dip my toe back in, I’m going to start looking for additional outlets outside this blog to write for. I haven’t pitched anything in, well, years actually. So it’ll be a learning process. And while I’m nervous, I’m also excited to re-establish my voice and write my thoughts down.

This is the first step of many to get to back to feeling like a writer again.

mexico, lindo y quierdo

I knew since before I left for Mexico that I would want to sit down and write about my experience. It was only a matter of when and it’s sadly taken me a few months to finally sit down and collect my thoughts. But now that I finally have the time, I find myself struggling to really put it into words.

I knew that going to unfamiliar parts of my home country would be a great experience, but I didn’t really realize what a profound impact it would have on me. Much like my trip to Central America, I worked unbelievably hard. The days were long and hot and I almost always slept like the dead because of how tired I was. But when we weren’t working, we did manage to have some fun. We ate and drank and explored. I’ve always known that much like the States, Mexico is vastly different depending on what part of the country you’re in. I had just never seen it for myself.

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Cuernavaca, while rather busy and crowded, had hidden oases in the form of beautiful gardens and pools. Puebla took me by surprise. As part of the project site we were visiting in Cuernavaca, we made the three hour journey with the local group to Puebla. Upon entering the city limits, I was taken aback by how modern the buildings were. Puebla is one of Mexico’s most historical cities that has been able to embrace both new and old. We worked and stayed in the colonial district, where old, colorful buildings make up the majority of the area surrounding the zocalo. We only had a day and a half in Puebla before driving to Mexico City for our flight to Monterrey. I already know that I have to go back someday.

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I also went back to Monterrey for the first time in about 7 years and it’s still very much the city I’ve always loved. It’s a city of industry but surrounded by a gorgeous mountain range. We traveled 6 hours outside of city to a remote region and stayed in cabins at a national park. After easily one of the longest work days of the trip, we were treated to BBQ and drinks by a waterfall. Definitely made the day worthwhile.

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The trip ended in coastal Mexico. We landed in Puerto Vallarta and traveled north to a small, sleepy beach town called Chacala. I’m grateful that the last leg of the trip was the most calm, serene place of the bunch. It’s probably also the region that I miss the most, but eating on the beach for several days, with fresh fish and fruit constantly at your disposal, it’s to be expected.

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I walked away from this trip with a renewed love for Mexico and a sudden need to travel more. Maybe it’s because I’m coming to end of my 20s and I’m realizing that I haven’t gone any further than Central America. We live in a vast, beautiful world and I have yet to even a see a fraction of it. That’s something I need to desperately change.

So, I’m hoping to make traveling a priority over the next year. I’m hoping that if an opportunity presents itself, I’ll seize it rather than talk myself out of it. Whether it be for work, or with Alex, or with friends, I’d like a few more stamps in my passport.

Here’s to making that happen before I hit the big 3-0.

#tbt – central america

I can’t believe that this time a year ago, I was in Central America. Granted, it was a work trip but I got to travel outside of North America for the first time in my life to Guatemala and Honduras for two weeks. I saw great work being done, met wonderful people, and saw how beautiful each country is. I got to see and stay in the cities of Antigua and Tegucigalpa, as well as the rural mountainsides and quiet communities of both countries.

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It’s really only recently that I’ve come to realize how grateful I am to be bilingual. Being fluent in Spanish has been such a normal part of my life that I’ve never given it much thought. If anything, I’ve always seen it as a way to communicate with family members who don’t speak English; I never really thought about how it could play a role in my career and create new opportunities. The whole reason I was sent on this trip was because I’m the only writer in my department that speaks Spanish and it made more sense to send a colleague along than hire an on-site translator.

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I’m glad I not only got to have this experience, but that I also get to tell the stories of the people I met. I’ve written extensive coverage on the projects we saw in Guatemala and am currently writing a feature story about Honduras that will be accompanied by my co-worker’s video footage. Even if I never get to go on a trip like this again, I’ll always be grateful for this one.

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If anything, this trip has made want to travel more, both to other countries where I know the language and to ones I don’t. But all that in due time. For now, I have a nice three-day weekend to look forward to. :)

to california and back

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My week in California came and went, in the total blink of an eye. I working long days during my work conference. I was on my feet quite a bit and was constantly running around. I definitely didn’t have as much free time as I thought I would, but that was mostly because I helped out wherever I could outside of my assignment.

Whatever downtime I did have, I immediately went outside to enjoy the weather. Being out and about in San Diego meant getting dinner with my co-workers (we had two free nights to find dinner on our own) and got to try some seriously tasty food and drinks. The best place I went to was Starlite. I would definitely love to go back to San Diego, if only to try more restaurants and squeeze in some shopping!

While the work conference I was at was hard work, I got to meet more of my co-workers and get to know them, which is always good. I also had today off from work, so I got to have a bit more downtime (I flew back in on Saturday afternoon) to run errands and take care of a few things. Even though it’s freezing cold in Chicago (the high for tomorrow is 9 degrees. SINGLE DIGITS, PEOPLE), I’m glad to be home. Since I won’t be traveling for a while, I can finally focus on myself and the things I hope to accomplish in the next couple of months. I’ll hopefully have a blog post up about that soon, of course. :)