I just attended a concert (Streetlight Manifesto, to be exact) and thought I would share some essentials for concerts. For small, indoor concerts, I usually bring a wrist wallet or a under-the-shirt travel belt (not very stylish, but extremely practical for when things get rough). In there, you will find:

Phone, keys, ticket: Well, duh. I will often put my keys on a lanyard and tie them around my belt loop and put them in my pocket as I often don’t have room in my phone wallet for them.

If I’m taking public transit, I will also bring any transportation tickets, passes and headphones to pass the commute.

I.D., about $30 in cash, credit card: When I don’t bring my full on wallet, I bring the bare minimum, my I.D. for will call tickets, card I used to pay for them and additional money in case I want to buy merchandise.

Extra hair ties: In case my hair ties break during the performance. Having my hair down at a concert is a big no-no.

CDs and Sharpie: If I feel there is a good chance I will meet the band, I will bring alone some CD booklets for band members to sign! Especially after shows (in contrast to a planned signing), members might not always have a pen, so I always be sure to take my own.

Gift: If there is a good chance I will meet the band before the performance, I will often make them a gift, usually a painting.

If it is an outdoor, all-day festival, I will usually bring a few additional items:

Portable charger: After a long day of taking videos of performances, you phone is bound to lose juice.

Gallon of water and snacks: Because who wants to pay $5 for a water bottle?

Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses: Don’t get burned by forgetting sunny day essentials and other weather appropriate materials (rain poncho, windbreaker, etc.).

These are all important to being prepared for a great concert experience. Stay safe!

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It’s real. When you’ve been away from your home country for a while, coming back feels just as strange as when you first arrived in your host country. Since I’ve been back, I’ve noticed several major differences from the United States and United Kingdom:

Everyone is much more talkative. This isn’t always a bad thing, it just catches me off guard a lot. I was in Target browsing in the home goods when a woman suddenly says, “You know, I often make small pillows out of placemats,” and it took me a hot minute before I realized she was speaking to me!

Everything is really spread out. Fresh off the plane, my parents took me out for ice cream in a shopping center when I realized how massive the parking space alone was. Such lots don’t really exist in many parts of the United Kingdom. Not to mention, many American cities are really big and spread out, where in England you have a lot of smaller towns. In the twenty odd miles it takes me to drive from my house to downtown, I could have easily driven through several English towns. Needless to say, I’m already sick of driving. Also, in England, shops and flats are built up about three or four stories while here, everything is built out, not up.

Everything is really big. Although this is somewhat of an American stereotype, it’s true. Especially our houses and cars are a lot bigger than that of our British counterparts. The only exception is beer bottles, they’re actually bigger in the United Kingdom, I feel like a giant when I drink now!

American humor. From commercials to movies, now that I’m back, the difference between British and American humor is apparent. American humor is more slap-stick and goofy while British humor is more ironic and based on awkward interactions. I’ve come to really appreciate British humor and now a lot of American humor seems rather juvenile to me.

Issues are far more polarized. In the United Kingdom, I find most people are pretty neutral when it comes to topics like politics and religion. However, in America, that couldn’t be more untrue. There are strong opinions coming from both sides of every issue and they are often extremely passionate and sometimes send harmful messages. Such attitudes are really overwhelming to me.

Although a lot of people don’t really consider the cultural differences between two similar countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, they’re definitely there.

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I’m starting these posts at the end of the month to reminisce on what I’ve done over the last month and things I can improve on.

The first week of the month was mostly spent studying for exams. I feel like I prepared well for my exams, but also balanced my social life, which was crucial as it was my last few weeks in England.

After my exams were finished, I met Dan’s family. They’re all lovely people and I’m glad I had the chance to meet them before I went back to the United States. My very last days in England were spent wandering around Brighton and spending time with Dan and Ben.

Before I knew it, I was back in Tucson. My first week was spent catching up with family and friends, unpacking, going through my junk (being abroad made me realize how little of all my stuff I actually use) and otherwise keeping busy by applying for jobs, knitting, coloring, painting, working out, reading and helping my mom around the house.

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With summer, the prime traveling season, in our midst, I thought I would share some pearls of wisdom on how to pack for those setting off:

  • Make a list. For my study abroad trip, I started considering things to pack about a month in advance so I would have time to shop for what I needed.
  • As a basic rule of thumb, if you don’t wear or use it now, you won’t wear or use it abroad. As simple as it sounds, I always trick myself into thinking, “There’s that shirt I haven’t worn in a few years, maybe I’ll wear it on this trip.” Of course, I never do. If I haven’t worn it in more than a month, I usually don’t consider bringing it.
  • For longer trips, once you lay out what you think you’re going to pack, however much it is, eliminate about a fourth of your clothing. I promise, it won’t be missed.
  • Some of the most effective space-saving solutions are to roll your t-shirts and put larger, non-flexible items like shoes in first.
  • Do not pack anything in your checked bags that you can’t live without. I make sure to have things like prescription medications, laptop, cameras, currency, etc. on my person and leave my checked bags exclusive to clothes and toiletries; things much more easy to replace.
  • Obey Murphy’s Law of packing: if it can spill, it will. Bag and even double bag things susceptible to spill, especially fine liquids.
  • As hard as it may be, try to leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs or easy packing for your return trip. Another way to create extra space is to not expand your suitcase until your return trip.
  • You can find great deals on name-brand suitcases at stores like Ross, T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s.
  • Some airlines abroad (especially budget ones) might have different carry-on policies (in terms of prohibited items, maximum baggage size, etc.) you should check up on before traveling.
  • In addition, double check baggage restrictions on trains, buses, etc. you plan on taking, as well.

Happy trails!

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During my study abroad experience, I cataloged my memories and experiences using a scrapbook. I’ve recently completed it and I love sharing it with people and reliving those precious moments. Here are some bits and pieces I put in my travel scrapbook for those considering to make their own:

I order my scrapbooks chronologically, so if you were to look in my scrapbook, my trip to New York would be first. For each destination, I have three components: what I call “bits and pieces,” text of what I did and personal photographs (4-10 depending on the length of the trip). My favorite parts are the bits and pieces, which include:

  • Postcards
  • Concert/ event tickets
  • Transport tickets
  • Museum tickets/ maps
  • City maps
  • Attraction pamphlets
  • Business cards (restaurants, hostels, etc.)
  • Wristbands
  • Receipts (for an especially good meal)

Basically, I keep everything I collect on a trip and sort through it once I get home and decide what would look best in my scrapbook. I also cut down the maps and other thick documents to the front page so my scrapbook doesn’t get too thick. I love my scrapbook, my only regret is not holding out for a bigger one as I would have liked all my adventures to be in one big scrapbook rather than two smaller ones.

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