cultural shock: because we all do things differently

I found myself looking up from my book, my eyes searching on the full bus. My eyes landed on a group of 20-somethings like myself, though unlike me, they didn’t resort to quieter forms of self entertainment. I found myself frowning at the group of 20-somethings talking loudly at the back of the bus. They weren’t exactly sitting together, though their bodies twisted to face one another, and I turned too, even though I had my eBook out and my headphones on, at a volume that drowned out everything else except their conversation and laughters.

People talking loudly on the public transportation system?

That’s something you’d rarely find in Northern Europe. In fact, trains in Denmark has ‘silent zones’ where the rule is like the name suggests – you make no noise while you sit there – the concept is like the one we observe in a library. The only time I can think of people talking above a whisper on public transport is 2 AM in the morning and everyone’s packed to the train inebriated and rowdy post-party (I’ve been there), yet still, that’d be the outlier – most people are respectful of each other’s space and their privacy – which is something I find so endearing that I wished it was the universal, rather than ‘norm’ in a few countries in the world only.

because things are happening, and happening fast

Settling back into my old routine? Nah, not a chance. Just because I’m back doesn’t mean I’m slowing down. I’m surfing the buzz of my latest trip and quite frankly, I won’t be slowing down anytime soon!

Instead I’ve set out challenges for myself. And by challenges, I mean measurable challenges that will help me become a better version of myself.

  1. Finish a new book per week.
  2. Cook a sit-down meal every weekend.
  3. Run outside!

On another happy note, two more weeks until I can preview train tickets on DB Bahn and book my trip for Winter! Lots of things waiting in store!

Finding a New Normal

“When you know what happiness is, you won’t accept anything less than that.” – Yours Truly.

I’ve been meaning to write this while on the road, though that had proven to be difficult. When your day is filled with so much activity and movement it’s just not enough. I’ve only sat down once alone in a cafe in the city centre of København to check my emails, scroll through sites and of course, update this blog with an one sentence post. I’ve been up to many things in between, but what I found most rewarding was the time I got to spend with my friend.

I’ve realized that life is so much more fun when you’re 120% engaged, and time flies by so fast when you’re immersed and you’re knocking on adventure’s door, expanding your horizons and learning new boundaries, but then maybe breaking through them on the same night.

I’ve learned to be curious again (which is kind of the magic of traveling to a culture different from yours, yes, even though Denmark is considered ‘western’ culture, it’s still different from North American, rest assured.) I’ve learned to be uncomfortable, take risks and be bold. I’ve learned and realized, once again, in five days more than I had in the past few months – possibly because I was also giving it 120% on the daily, just being my best.

Take home point is – this should be the ‘norm’ no matter where I am.

120% focus and engagement will be my new norm. I’m going to make it happen.

if it’s not a challenge, then it’s not worth it

As is with everything in life, those things that comes too easy, often leaves as easy. My days in Copenhagen has come to an end, but those 5 days were more than necessary in inspiring me to press forward with my life. Not only did I stop to take a much needed breath and see my friends. I ended up gaining new perspectives on life – but really, isn’t that the point of travel? New experiences, new horizons and new goals go hand in hand with not only traveling but life. Needless to say, this trip punctuates a milestone in life – and with refreshed perspectives and strengths, I accept all challenges that come forth thus.

Traveling inspires more wanderlust

Five days is not enough, but then again, I always feel that way about Europe. There’s always more things to be done, more things to be seen, more things to be inspired by, oh if only I had more time. But then I realize, why is it that I always want to do more, see more when traveling, rather than staying put at home? Could the answer be more obvious?

What I realized is that, it all started with me.

If only I had wanted to stay put, enough the life I have back home, then perhaps I’d be a lot happier – but at the same time, traveling frequently has also taught me that, I cannot simply be content with what I have back home, since there’s so much more out there than my little piece of the world. Again, so much wonder to be experienced and memories to be made.

why you’re better off spending more flying direct

While I’m an advocate for budget traveling and shaving off costs whenever and wherever you can, recently I ran into this rather practical traveling problem. Say, I saved $200 dollars by not flying direct, but then multiple layovers and hours at the airport tend to turn even the most frugal of us into bleeding wallets. So did I really save that $200 like I thought I did?

There are a few things to consider when you’re traveling.

  1. Safety
  2. Comfort
  3. Hassle

1. If you can, shorten the trip for the purposes of saving on travel insurance: in this case, time = money, the more time you spend outside of your home country the higher the cost of insurance, so factor that in when you’re doing long layover, multiple connection flights.

2. food, pack your own non-perishable food: This is so important! I had somehow forgotten that security checks do not like you when you bring ‘perishable’ food into after security and I was very recently reacquainted just how expensive things could be inside the airport… 10 dollars for a pre-packed sandwich at LAX, which contains two pieces of white bread and mystery meat drenched in sodium? Like, why are we getting prison food at airports? And then you also realize, to get out of the airport is too much of a hassle – so think ahead of time.

Solution: Try to eat before you go through security, or pack really bland non-perishables that don’t trigger and set off alarms at security, like granola or oatmeal. PS: you shouldn’t bring jam or gel type items…as I learned first hand at LAX, Nutella is not flight friendly.

2. EMPTY WATER BOTTLE: not full because you’d have to chuck them out at security and everything behind security cost an arm and a leg.

Solution: bring your own water bottle and make sure it’s empty. Airports usually have water fountains post-security checks. You can fill them up and bring it onto the plane and make sure you do, because planes are very very dry, people often start coughing at the end of a long-haul flight.

3. SIT TIGHT: say what? More sitting in the waiting area, wouldn’t it be great to stretch your legs before a flight? Yes and no. Yes you should move around and stretch before you’re crammed into a plane, but try to steer clear of anything that calls out to your wallet – the duty free might be ‘tax free’ but always ask yourself, do you really need it?

Solution: load your e-reader up with 100+ books, and have fun.

4. Comfort: if you’re skimping out on hotels to sleep in the airport to save $$$, of course, but be prepared for achy and possibly grumpy mood and a feeling that the time to board is never going to come.

Solution: bite the bullet and repeat, ‘this too shall pass’ while reading books on your e-reader. Because, it most likely will.

All in all, saving money requires tenacity and organization. If you don’t get it quite right the first times, take it as lesson well learned.

overnight airport stay: productivity tips

Who knew that nights at the airport is quieter than a library?

I sure didn’t until last night. I’d thought the experience would be highly uncomfortable, since I’m no stranger of news clips showing people stranded and camped out at airports during snowstorms. However, my experience, on a normal night for Seattle Tacoma Airport – the place is absolutely serene, to the point, hiding in the workstation helped me to focus on things that needed to be done, and I got lots done in the 12 hours I was there – even with distractions from my social media accounts. Yes.

So what are the keys to productivity in an airport?

  1. Decide that you’re here to work: you might as well, you’re staying at an airport, do you really dare to sleep?
  2. Find the secluded workstations if you can: they’re usually the surface with chargers and bar stools. Depending on the airport you might also find some working cubicles which sort of look like some business class seat – it’s shielded from three sides with only one side open, helping you to ignore the outside world.
  3. Get yourself two drinks, not one: you want to stay well hydrated, so if you get a coffee to pull the all nighter, or something stronger like an energy drink, and you want to minimize the times you have to get up to grab something to drink. And when you have two drinks and not one, when you leave to get up to use the washroom, you’ll leave one drink at the table, giving people the idea that you’re coming back (without actually leaving anything valuable behind), saving yourself a seat.
  4. Make sure you get up and stretch regularly: the seats are only comfy for so long, and according to research, sitting is the new smoking, so make sure you get up to stretch, move, yoga!
  5. Respect other people’s space: there might be other travellers staying at the airport at night. Don’t blast loud music, or talk loudly on the phone – respect each other’s space and focus on what you’re working on.