Spring 2018: Not Australia

This time last year, I had just gotten back from an incredible two weeks in London and was preparing to study abroad in Australia. It is absolutely crazy to me to think that was my life just 12 months ago. Believe me, I want it back! However, I cannot dwindle on the past.

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I am saddened that I cannot declare that I am studying abroad in some exotic place this year, but I do have some things that may excite some (mostly my family). I am heading into my last semester of undergraduate at Hofstra University and I have just begun an internship with NBC Weekend TODAY. Although I just started, I have already been given so much to do, such as researching, running updated scripts to the control room during the show and logging music the show uses so royalties can be paid. It is a weekend morning show, so I am in New York City by five in the morning on Saturdays and six on Sundays, and I go in two to four times a week.

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Me in the studio at NBC TODAY

Due to my hectic schedule this semester (I am still juggling my sorority, fraternity, my school’s television station and a job on top of being an intern and full-time student), I will not be able to produce as much content as I did last semester (unless I can). Therefore, I plan to post a new video from Australia almost every week, one year after I experienced such incredible travels. My goal is to start this in March, as I do have some posts from winter break to share and maybe one or two new posts to type up in February.

I have said before: this is no top-of-the-line travel blog, but it is something I hold important to me and enjoy doing. So, with that being said, I hope some people take a liking to my upcoming posts and Australian adventures!

Whitmanythought 1: I cannot wait to share my videos! Most of them have been done since I was in Australia

Whitmanythought 2: Maybe I should just delay graduation and study abroad again

 

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London: One Year Later

One year ago today, I was spending my last night in London and begrudgingly preparing to leave behind the most exciting and fulfilling two weeks of my life.

Today, I began my new internship at NBC Weekend TODAY which will hopefully cultivate an exciting and fulfilling semester.

Two years ago, I never thought I would have just finished frolicking around London with great friends. One year ago, I would never believe I would be making my way into an incredible pre-professional opportunity. Isn’t it crazy what time can do?

Here is the video that documents the travels of my dear trip to London in 2017.

Whitmanythought 1: Take me back to London, please.

Whitmanythought 2: I feel so under-qualified for this internship.

Frisco, Colorado: Wrapped Up

It has been a week since I returned from Colorado, and I have not stopped appreciating how much we lucked out with the conditions. Now, I get to look back on my family ski trip through my lackluster memory, blog posts, pictures, and this video. Enjoy!

 

Frisco, Colorado: Good Eats

Food is a key ingredient to a fantastic vacation. Here are some of the yummy tastes I got to enjoy during my time in Frisco.

Night One:

Besides the skiing, something we really look forward to about Frisco is the incredible sushi joint called Kemosabe. It’s a small place that does not take reservations, so you need to be tactical about dinnertime, unless you don’t mind waiting for a table. Unfortunately, Pop Pop was not feeling well, so the first night was just me and my dad. Fortunately, we were able to be seated right away and were waited on by an extremely sweet English waitress we have had before.

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Dad and I split my favorite spicy tuna tower and handful of rolls. Our favorite was called the Bumblebee, and was a mixture of mango and salmon, and gave a slightly sweet and refreshing taste. I also tried something different and got the All American roll which was a roll of tempura asparagus, avocado and crab and topped with seared beef tenderloin and a sweet soy sauce.

Night Two:

We could not leave without Pop Pop having sushi, so luckily, we went back to Kemosabe and split a few rolls, which were all of course, very satisfying. I love tuna, and the tuna sashimi we ordered was a beautiful red and really hit the spot.

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Night Three:

My Coloradoan family was stuck in traffic, so unfortunately they missed dinner at The Uptown on Main, which was formerly The Boatyard, where we have eaten. The atmosphere and service was not my favorite, but my taste buds were definitely pleased. I settled on having two appetizers for dinner: NY strip steak sliders with queso and sautéed onions and secondly thai satay skewers. I was shocked by how much food was in front of me considering they were just appetizers, but even bigger than the portion were the flavors.

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Night Four:

It was Saturday night, a holiday weekend, and there was football on, and that is a recipe for crowded eateries. After waiting about two hours for a table, the seven of us ate at an Italian restaurant a few storefronts down from our lodge. I had four cheese and spinach ravioli with a pesto sauce, which was very rich. Although we waited so long for a table, the delicious food and overly friendly dining staff made it a pleasurable night.

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Night Five:

My uncle was having no part in lines, so we ended up at a Ruby Tuesday, where I finally had a sandwich, which I had been wanting. It was a relaxed, casual dinner and it was nice chatting it up with my family.

I do have to add that I was incredibly impressed with the food and food service at the mountains each day. From sushi to BBQ, there was a huge array of choices between all the mountains and it was all super delicious. Most notable were my pulled pork mac and cheese which reminded me of the same thing I ate in London, lobster mac and cheese and a Thai noodle bowl.

Although we did not get to eat at my favorite pub this time, I had incredible food on this trip eaten with even more incredible people.

 

Frisco, Colorado Day 4: Reflecting on the Trip

How does one spend the last day of a ski trip? Ripping it, of course. My dad, grandfather, uncle, cousin and I headed to Keystone Mountain Sunday morning with much excitement due to the bright blue skies and sun shining over us.

If we could have combined Sunday’s weather with the snow conditions of the other days, it would have been absolutely perfect. Regardless, Sunday was a beautiful end to an exciting trip. The first half of the day consisted of all of us shredding together, and then my uncle and cousin left me, my grandfather, and dad to do the job—and we definitely got it done! To my surprise, we stayed on the mountain almost as late as we could to take advantage of every run we could.

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Only if this trail was called “Abbey Road”

As I have said, this ski trip has been an extraordinary one. We lucked out with fresh snow three of the four days and the temperatures stayed high enough so I did not freeze my fingers off.

Secondly, I am super proud of my improvement. My dad joked that my new ski outfit contributed to my better form, but to be honest, my new ski goggles gave me way more visibility than my old ones, which upped my confidence and pushed me to not shy away from quick turns down steeper terrain. Nothing feels better than my uncle asking, “When doesn’t she kill it?” and me genuinely feeling proud of myself.

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Me excitedly skiing down the mountain

Finally, as I have mentioned, it was so special being with my family over the last few days. Goofing off with them made the days light, but also made me want to show off what I can do a bit more. Nothing beats being in a competition with my uncle to see who can spray the other one more with snow, singing Taylor Swift as my dad simultaneously sings classic rock on the chairlift or being pleasantly surprised when my “mini-me” cousin flashes a “thumbs up,” something I often do, for a photo together.

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Mini me and I

This ski trip was different. It was more relaxed, but somehow more fulfilling. I will miss hearing man-made avalanches in the distance, seeing my dad carve a line around me and feeling like I am on top of the world as I gawk at the mountain peaks surrounding me. I may be done on the slopes for a while, but I cannot wait to get back on them next winter!

Frisco, Colorado Day 3: Family Fun

Day three of skiing brought more amazing conditions, but best of all, it brought my family! I was super thrilled to be on the mountain Saturday with not just my father and grandfather, but also my aunt, uncle and two cousins who are Colorado natives.

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Whitman family ski trip!

The day was bound to be interesting because my whole family is not all at the same level of skiing, so there was some pace-adjusting to do. The morning actually went by quickly despite how relaxed it was. We had an early lunch, and then the rest of my family left the mountain to watch the Eagles’ playoff game at the lodge.

 

So then there was two. Although I was super excited to ski with my whole family, there is nothing like some daddy-daughter skiing. To make up for the slow morning, I firmly suggested that my dad and I take the T-bar up to the bowl of the mountain, the highest point that surpasses the tree line. A T-bar is a lift that two people rest their behinds on as they grab onto the cable and get pulled up the hill, skis on the ground. My father was quite skeptical about this because he thought it would be too cold and snowless up there. However, he was pleasantly surprised to find untouched powder and a wide open mountain peak for us to explore. He enjoyed it so much that he opted to do it again! This is the type of skiing that left my thighs burning and my heart racing.

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Selfie at the peak of the mountain with Dad!

From a family-filled, slow morning to a fast-paced afternoon with just my dad, Saturday ended up being an incredible day at Breckenridge Resort. To make it better, I caught half the Eagle’s game with my family at the lodge, where we animatedly cheered them on around the television. I do have to admit that Taylor Swift played in the car on the way to and from the mountain, and I’m not confident that the fresh snow, comfortable temperatures and Eagles winning was all just a coincidence. I suppose I can leave that open for interpretation.

 

 

 

 

Frisco, Colorado Day 2: Skiing in a Snow Globe

Day two of skiing gave some of the best conditions I’ve had (I definitely said that last year). Similarly to my second day of skiing at Park City, I thoroughly enjoyed my second day in Colorado at Keystone Mountain.

I walked outside Thursday morning surprised to see about five inches of snow on the ground and snow still generously falling from the sky. We arrived at Keystone and the snow was still coming down, but that just made us excited to have some fresh snow to disturb. I am laughing at myself because last year I dreaded skiing in the snow, but this year, I actually quite enjoyed it. This is probably because the temperature was in the twenties, which is ideal for someone who gets cold easily like myself.

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Outside our room Thursday morning

Thursday I felt like I was skiing in a snow globe. The sky was a mix of dark and light gray clouds, sometimes with a hint of sun that gave an idea of the outside world. Frankly, I could not have cared less about the outside world as I was followed my dad down the mountain with my Pop Pop trailing behind. I could stay in my snow globe all day.

Although we would of course prefer blue skies, which we did get for a bit in the afternoon, there were no complaints with the fresh snow which was giving us excellent skiing conditions. The peaks of the mountain were a bit windy, but as we moved further down the trails, the winds subsided.

We normally try to explore the whole mountain, but we found a solid group of trails off the same ski lift, and could not believe it when we realized it was already lunch time. Now that is the purest example of time flying when having fun! After a delicious barbecue lunch, we stuck to another area, which we had skied in previous years that had excellent runs for us as well.

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In my snow globe 

My version of an excellent run is one that is wide, so it does not make me feel cramped and that does not have an overwhelming amount of people on it. I like a trail with loose snow, but nothing so deep that I sink into it, with a downhill vertical that will work my thighs and leave me at a loss of breath. Thankfully, I experienced a bunch of trails that gave me just that.

Keystone treated us well, and the forecast for the next two days is promising. To wrap the second day post the same way as last year, I will leave by saying this: “Today is how a day on the mountain should be: fun and fast!”

Frisco, Colorado Day 1: Fluffy Snow with a Hint of Sun

When my father and I went to Park City last year, we stayed at one resort the whole time. However, in Frisco, Colorado, we do quite the opposite. In fact, we do not even ski in Frisco. We just stay here at the sweetest little inn called the Frisco Lodge.

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A photo of me outside our lodge my freshman year of college

When in Colorado, we go to different ski resorts; usually a different one every day. Thursday took us to a new place at which we have never skied: Beaver Creek. Besides a little bit of uncertainty in the morning that comes with going to a new mountain (where to park, where the trails lead, etc.), we had a phenomenal first day on the slopes.

We normally go on this trip a week earlier than we did, but luckily, it was delayed this year. I say we were lucky because apparently there was not too much snow at Beaver Creek a week ago, and the beautiful, light, fluffy snow we conquered Monday was brand new. We went on a variety of trails, from easy groomers to steep and uneven terrain. We found a cluster of trails that we really enjoyed and took advantage of during the middle of the day.

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Some blue sky at the base of Beaver Creek

Besides the great snow conditions, the weather was fantastic. In the low 20s, the mountain was not too chilly when in the sunlight. I get cold quite easily, so I was mentally preparing myself to freeze before we even headed to the mountain. There were bright blue skies visible between the clouds, and that is always an uplifting and energizing sight to see while skiing.

However, the best part of the day was when my father told me he had to do a double-take on me because he said my form was so good, he at first did not realize it was me coming down the trail. What a fantastic compliment to start off a fun four days of skiing!

Hello Colorado: Thoughts on an Airplane

The last time I was on a plane, I was curled up in a ball with tears spewing out of my eyes, drenching my cheeks. I was leaving Australia and coming back from my alternate universe, which I have now come to call it.

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I’ll admit I was not too excited to be on a plane again; maybe because it was not leading me to Australia. However, as soon as I got to the airport, I felt that little rush of exhilaration making its way through my body, cheering up my heart and bringing happy thoughts to my brain. After a very low key winter break and a cancelled trip to Virginia due to sickness, I am on my way to my annual family ski trip out West.

I am extra excited for this trip because my Pop Pop and uncle could join again, unlike last year. Even better, my uncle is bringing his wife and kids along to go skiing for two days. I have never skied or been on a trip with them, and for that I am stoked.

The scary part about this trip, though, is that it could very well be my last family ski trip and my last big ski getaway for a long time. I will be taking a course next winter for graduate school, so I have no idea what my availability will be. If this is it, next year will be the first time I do not go on a family ski trip in about ten years.

However, I will not dwell on that because endings mean new beginnings and new adventures (that’s what they say, at least). For now, I am going to enjoy this time with the best skiing partners and try to show the mountain what I’ve got!

Whitmanythought 1: I cannot wait to go skiing and write about it!

In the meantime, here is my ski video from last year I threw together.

How to Budget Your Money While Studying Abroad

Studying abroad, in my biased opinion, is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. That being said, it is an investment that involves large sums of money. Before you leave, you will have your visa, plane ticket(s), tuition, and accommodation paid. However, you will be paying your living expenses as you go, which can be a daunting task. I am here to show you exactly how I managed my money while abroad so you can have an inside look at what your expenses may resemble.

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Have a place for your budget

The first step in managing any budget well is making a spreadsheet. This can be written on paper or saved on a computer. I used the Numbers application that comes on my Mac to create a spreadsheet and saved it onto my desktop for easy access. I have an example of a spread sheet using Microsoft Excel below.

Categorize

Something I did that made seeing and handling my budget super easy was breaking my expenses into categories. I had my budget broken down into:

  • Groceries and Supplies – This was for necessities such as food from the grocery store to toilet paper to my Wi-Fi plan
  • Trips – This accounted for all travel plans I made for my time abroad such as my trips to Rottnest Island and Thailand. This was not set in stone prior to arriving, but a growing list of all the trips I scheduled along the way.
  • Travel – This included all my public transport such as riding the bus and train, which was essential in Perth. You can also include Uber/Lyft and taxi expenses here.
  • Extras – This category was for all the “extras” that were of-the-moment entertainment decisions such as the Justin Bieber concert and music festival I attended, or even just going out to eat.
  • Pre-Paid Card – This is very unique to my circumstance, as AIFS provided me with a debit card that was reloaded with $250 U.S. every month to help offset costs. I kept track of my spending on my own and would compare that to the transactions listed on the card’s website to make sure everything added up.
  • Cash – While abroad, I mostly used card to pay for things. However, I did come over with some cash, and I kept track of my losses when I spent and gains when people repaid me with cash. I do think it is essential to say that most people come with hundreds of dollars of cash, so bring what you feel is necessary. I luckily only needed to use an ATM once when I made a last-minute decision at the end of the trip.

Of course, there are plenty of ways you can break down your budget. Hopefully this guide can help you start that process.

Know Your Budget

The most crucial thing to managing a budget is knowing how much you have to spend. At the top of each category, I wrote a number that I tried not to pass by the end of the trip. If I needed more money for one category, I borrowed from another. Of course, how much you can dedicate to each category is your personal decision. My advice, however, is to give a few hundred dollars to the extras and necessities categories.

Stay Dedicated

 A very important thing to sticking to your budget is to write every single thing you spend money on down, even if it is just a cup of coffee. Be sure to update your budget sheet at least every two days, or you may forget some of your purchases. Also, have it in a visible area so you are forced to remember to update it.

Below is an example of what your budget sheet will look like with the categories, respective budgets and expenses.

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After reading this, I hope you feel a bit relieved and confident to manage your budget while abroad. Remember: stay on top of your budget sheet so you know where your money is going!