Bucket List #25: Graduate, Get a Degree and Live Happily Ever After

I graduated on Saturday. When I first started this blog, graduation seemed like a million years away. But the day inevitably came, and now I could write an entire book on the things I learned in my four years of college (maybe someday I will!), most of which weren’t even taught to me in the classroom. I managed to narrow it down to only five.

Here are five of the most important lessons that I feel that I got in my time at Cal Poly… without opening an overly priced textbook.

35531108_1623367677780501_6805505805136166912_n.jpg

1) You will need to work your booty off: College is HARD. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone complain about how they “never studied in high school and got straight A’s” then came to Cal Poly and had to actually study to get a passing grade on a test or essay, I could’ve used it to pay my entire college tuition, So, work hard (and play hard), and don’t give up just because you’re facing a new challenge. For example, I studied a lot for my botany class but I do not remember any of the information from it when we’re hiking and my mom asks “What plant is that, Molly?!”

2) But don’t work too hard: because you only get to enjoy college once. Finding a balance between getting the kind of grades that satisfy you, and having the best overall college experience (yes, pint night $3 beers on Tuesday nights downtown is an extremely important experience) is by far the most important thing that I learned in my time at University. You’re going to remember the nights out with your friends making legendary memories together more than you’ll remember what you got on a grade in Calc 2 second quarter your first year. Hopefully.

3) Because there’s NOTHING glorifying about sacrificing your mental or physical health for a grade:  Eat food and get adequate sleep. Seriously, there’s nothing that annoys me more than someone who is attempting to *brag* about how they haven’t eaten since yesterday or only slept for 2 hours last night. In the long run it’s habits like these that are only going to hurt you. Yes you will inevitably have some late nights studying or make some decisions which may impact your health in a negative way (college kids CAN get hangovers contrary to popular belief), but no one wants to make a negative impact on their health for the entire rest of their life by permanently damaging their body/mind by repeatedly making poor decisions while they’re still in college, right? Yes you’re young, but get some rest, fuel yourself properly, and you’ll thank yourself later.

4) Don’t be afraid to fail: Okay so don’t go failing your classes and say “Molly said don’t be afraid to fail” because what I mean by that is you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new out of the fear of failing. Failure is how we learn. Learning is how we grow. Failure is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently. So go ahead and try the intramural soccer team even though you haven’t played since you were seven. Put yourself out there to do something out of your comfort zone. And don’t take anything too personally if it doesn’t work out.

5) Friendships may come and go, but you’ll always have your own independent self to rely on: I’ve enjoyed making friendships with a lot of amazing people in my time at Cal Poly. Some of these friendships have faded or been outgrown, but some of them I know will last for the rest of my life. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by these amazing people. But one of the most important lessons I have learned in college is that you need to learn how to take care of and count on yourself. There are going to be times that you will have to learn how to be alone. And being alone doesn’t mean “lonely,” it’s an opportunity for growth and self discovery. 

Peace out Cal Poly! I’ll be back to visit, soon ❤

Advertisements

The Challenge of Transition is What Builds up True Strength

IMG_7875
Movin’ on and movin’ up

It’s my 22nd birthday. It’s a birthday which doesn’t outwardly mean anything exciting like the 13th, 16th, or 21st does in our American culture but it is still another year of life to celebrate. I made it another 365.25 days of creating new experiences, meeting new people to form new relationships, and developing myself through education/overcoming a variety of personal challenges. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the exhausting amount of effort that it feels like life expects from us and the anxiety of facing the outside world with its roughness can make me feel like I’m being buried alive. When I feel like this, I turn to my steady practice of yoga.

When I practice yoga it makes me feel grounded because it lets me focus on one thing at a time and forces me to breathe in a steady rhythm without becoming distracted by the chaotic world outside of the four walls of the studio. This is a conscious choice: to let yourself become completely enveloped in the practice. You must temporarily release the grip you have on your personal problems and become in synch with the positive supportive energy in the room of your practice.

When you successfully rise up into a pose, you hold it with the strength of your legs,  arms, core, whatever is stabilizing you to keep you up. Believe it or not, that’s the “easy” part. The challenging part and the part that we don’t always think about when we think about doing a yoga practice, is the transitions.

IMG_4563
Life requires a certain level of “flexibility” from your expectations

The in-between transitions of shifting from pose to pose is what takes the true strength of your muscles and your mind. Likewise, the transitions in our lives are what give us the true challenge and the strength to grow.

The in-between state of not knowing what you’re doing with your life after university, or the emptiness of your days after leaving a bad job (even if you know you’re better off without it) is the scary part that no one talks about because it’s uncomfortable.

But a peak yoga pose can’t be achieved without the pain and uncertainty of attempting to rise up on one leg into bird of paradise for the first time. And even if you fall, at least you tried. You gained muscle memory from trying to reach the pose and have garnered more strength for the next time you attempt to rise up. It will take practice and failure but eventually with perseverance you will be successful.

When you work to strengthen your muscles physically in your body, you are literally  tearing apart the fibers in your muscles to start a cellular process in which they will rebuild to form new and stronger muscle protein strands. The discomfort of physically exercising these muscles is actually just breaking them down which will rebuild them back to become stronger than they were before.

img_5555
The view from the top is always worth the pain of the climb

Likewise, this is the same process as we face in our lives to make ourselves develop as people. By becoming uncomfortable we force ourselves to ourselves grow.

Turning 22 is just the beginning of a multitude of change and uncomfortable transitions I’m going to have to face in the next coming months. Graduating and moving away from my safety net of a college town San Luis Obispo, to Los Angeles which is a massive city full of chaos (and also great opportunity), will inevitably force me to grow… even if it does not feel like a comfortable situation in the moment.

Yoga has taught me that in order to achieve balance we must first fall out of line and learn how to recover, and that therefore in order to succeed we must learn how to overcome failure. Because if we came into life already knowing everything and having everything else handed to us without working for it, what would be the point of living?

In conclusion, here’s the mantra I’ve made for myself as I complete my 22nd rotation on the Earth around sun: “Find comfort in the discomfort… Because discomfort is how we truly make ourselves grow stronger than we ever were before.” I want to share this mantra with you so that you can take it and make what you want of it, hopefully creating some uncomfortable change for a better future in your own lives ❤

FullSizeRender-3

Insider’s Guide to the Famous SLO 21st Birthday Bar Crawl

DSC01308

If you’re a legal aged SLO college student and haven’t done your bar crawl are you even 21? Well, yes, but not officially 😉

The 21st birthday bar crawl of San Luis Obispo brings fond and crazy memories (or lack of memory?) of having a night on the town where you are required to fulfill specific “tasks” on a sign that your friends so generously craft for you to decide your adventurous fate for the night. The drinks vary per person, and are different for males and females, but generally follow a pattern as certain bars offer “21st birthday specials” for the birthday girl or boy. So (try to) stand up and prepare to get some stuff smashed into your forehead.

Most bar crawls begin at Bull’s Tavern on Chorro, where the famous “bull sweat” drink gives you the chance to stand on an elevated surface and take a shot of hot sauce. YUM. And the best part is that you get to chase it with beer. In reality, it’s not that bad and only takes about 15 seconds and everyone cheers for you as the bartender rings a very loud cowbell. Plus, you are ALLOWED to stand up on a bar which is a rare experience in itself, so it’s one that I highly recommend for any bar crawl. On my senior bar crawl with my sorority the beer chase was knocked out of my hand as I stood up on the bar and I still did it. #rightofpassage

IMG_7716

From Bull’s you can head to Creeky Tiki for a ski shot which is fun for all and requires some group coordination among participants. There’s a 4 person and a 6 person ski shot, so decide who your best friends are and make sure you’re properly in synch 😉 Creeky Tiki used to offer their famous 2 for 1 special from 10-11pm EVERY NIGHT (yes it was awesome) but the city shut THAT down and now it’s 50% off drinks from 10-11 which comes out to literally the same price and you can even get two different drinks now instead of 2 of the same… so it’s even better.

Next up is Black Sheep where the guys will have to face the “silver slipper” which if you haven’t heard of it guys, I’m not going to “break” it to you…. you’ll just have to find out yourself. Girls can take on the “angry balls” here which is what I think did me in on my crawl (chugging two types of alcohol at once can do that to you…) so take caution and drink some water afterward.

After Black Sheep head to SLO Brew located on Higuera with the main drag of bars to do the “blowjob shot.” This yummy tasting contraption is a shot of baileys topped heavily with whipped cream which you kindly have to take by only using your mouth and from in-between a friend’s legs (don’t spill!) It’s a nice break from hard alcohol and a good place to stop and do some dancing before getting back out into the party lines.

Frog and Peach is nextdoor to SLO Brew. This European pub style is where you’ll take on the Guinness race. How fast can you drink a Guinness? Hopefully faster than the bartender, and ten of your closest friends one of whom is actually a stranger and inevitably buys the round for everyone? How generous! Take a picture in the English phone booth on the back patio of Frog and Peach and get some air. Even if you don’t remember taking the photo, it’ll be a nice momento of when you were inspired to start speaking in an English accent, whether or not it’s actually a task you’re supposed to check off on your bar crawl sign.

IMG_3066

From there you can head to The Library across the street to study alcohol, and do the statue of liberty shot (now that Marston’s is closed, for the guys version, try the 6 shooter here? This drink includes 6 shots, three of which are clear alcohol, and three of which are water but you HAVE NO IDEA WHICH IS WHICH and at this point maybe you can’t taste the difference anyway so it doesn’t matter). Meanwhile, the statue of liberty is three stacked shots colored red, white, and blue, which you have to do in ten seconds as you hold your hand above your head… like the statue of liberty! Then it’s time to start the “USA chant” (optional).

In between the Lib and MoTav, do something in the bubblegum alley. I did yoga in the alley and the combination of (lack of) balance and wearing heels I do not recommend.

 

Finally head to the inevitably long line at Mother’s Tavern, affectionately referred to as “MoTav” where you can try out the “sexy alligator” shot or end the night with an AMF (buh bye!) and some dancing. This is my favorite part of the night because who doesn’t love unnaturally colored neon blue drinks with four different types of booze in them. Just kidding, I like MoTav for the dancing. Share the AMF with one with your friends though, and you might make it to your final destination: no, not home…

IMG_8658
That is not a natural color blue

Taco Bell. Taco bell is where the night ends and the people watching peaks. A person’s 2am chalupa order can, after all, make or break their night. And make sure to get that baja blast in there as your last drink and some well needed hydration. 😉

Well, there you go: a somewhat female biased synopsis of the SLO 21st birthday downtown bar crawl. DISCLAIMER: This is in no way a strict guide for drinks or activities (but do snag a photo with a cop in front of MoTav, because it seems like they just kinda hang out there. He will pretend to be mad but really will just be entertained by the entire debauchery).

IMG_2422
What a homie

Make sure you stay safe (you can say no to any drink at any time and end early if necessary), drink lots of water the day before and the day of, (as well as some Pedialyte because it’s not just for babies anymore) and do EAT FOOD that day before you go out.

Have your friends carry some cash on them, because although you’ll be granted a free golden ticket pass into every bar with just your sign and the use of your forehead as a stamping pad, your friends unfortunately will still have to pay cover charges. And remember to put someone you trust with your unlocked phone in charge of your snapchat story so that everyone who isn’t legal or out of town can join in on the fun!

Lastly, select a legendary outfit to match your beautiful sign, strike some attractive poses with friends and strangers, and let the night go down as a legend. Because it’s YOUR night in the spotlight birthday star! And congrats on finally being legal in America, because you know that it’s ABOUT TIME. 😉

 

 

What’s YOUR SLO Bucket List?

I’m almost done with my time in San Luis Obispo and fulfilling my bucket list, but this blog will continue to live on forever and share insight to the many amazing activities to do in the area.

There are so many wonderful experiences I have gotten to enjoy on the Central Coast, and although I wish I had time for more, I have to move on… But now I want YOU to tell me what your favorite Central Coast spots are and if I haven’t written a blog about the spot already, I will post your story as a guest submission! It can be a coffee shop, a secret hike, or a day trip adventure you’d like to share. 

Send me your stories at mollyobrien1996@att.net. I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

 

The Coolest Classes I’ve Taken at Cal Poly

Every quarter when registration comes around I wonder what the most interesting classes are to take at Cal Poly, that students might not necessarily know they can take. We spend a lot of time and effort in academic classes which go toward our major and are required, but the truth is that we only get to do college once.

Why not enjoy it a little bit?

These were some of the most fun classes I took at Cal Poly, and *GASP* most of them counted for absolutely nothing toward my degree… I had the opportunity to take some fun classes in my college experience because I did summer sessions every year and AP credits earned in high school, so I had some wiggle room to indulge in an enjoyable class or two (or eight) before graduating.

Some of the classes I mention actually can count for general education credit if you haven’t fulfilled that specific requirement yet or are great if you need elective credit. People would ask me why I was putting more work on myself by taking extra classes that “didn’t count for anything,” if I could just have a lighter course load or just even have graduated early. I always responded in the same way:

Money < Knowledge

I’m lucky enough to be paying in state tuition, so it doesn’t matter how many credits I take here at Cal Poly as long as I’m a full time student, because it’s the same amount of money per quarter whether I take 12 units or 20 units. I took these extra classes to learn  because I love learning and I’m not going to have the opportunity to take a class on “branded wine marketing” virtually for free (or at the same cost as my schooling would have costed anyway) anytime soon in my life. I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities I had to learn in college, about as many things as I possibly could. 

And there’s one thing that all of these classes had in common which made them especially fun for me to take: the teachers were overflowing with passion about what they were teaching us. All of these teachers truly enjoyed what they were doing and this joy connected with us as students in a special way because their interest in the subject translated into making the class fun and interesting.

So here they are, the most fun classes I’ve gotten to take at Cal Poly:

AEPS 215 “Floral Design 1”

This class was a class I had wanted to take ever since I heard about it when I was a freshman but could never get into because of bad class registration times. I finally got to take it as a senior and it was everything I hoped it would be. I learned a lot about the industry of floral design, as well as a lot about well… arranging flowers. It was so much fun and the professor was so enthusiastic about what she was doing with her life that it made me excited to learn. Be warned: this class does require a decent amount of studying for the midterm and final. Lots of memorizing. But there are great quizlets out there to help you study 😉

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The class usually takes place fall and winter quarters in the evening, from 3-7 and 4-7 and although you rarely have to spend the entire time in the lab, it does end later at night than other classes, depending on what kind of schedule you prefer.  If you like Floral Design 1, Floral Design 2 is offered Spring quarter and features more advanced techniques, giving you the opportunity to take your knowledge to the next level!

WVIT 343 “Branded Wine Marketing”

The only prerequisite for this class is an Econ class (ECON 201, 221 or 222) which you can most likely take to earn your “D” general education credit anyway. This class taught me information about marketing which I’m interested in as a career, with a specific product twist: WINE! It was interesting to hear the professor’s experience in the wine industry (and just about her life in general… I took the class with Marianne Wolf and she has just had a very exciting time on this Earth so far). I will warn you that this class requires a lot of work with multiple midterms and group projects, but it’s also very fascinating and I came out feeling like I had a new connection made with the WVIT industry.

IMG_2875
Who first decided to ferment grapes, and then drink the juice?

KINE 109 “Bowling”

Aww jeez, this is the classic senior class. It’s one of the most capstone right of passage classes for seniors to take at Cal Poly just for the experience at “the only bowling alley in SLO” which happens to be located on campus. And why not?! Since it’s credit/no credit and it’s only an hour session twice a week all you have to do is have fun. And now that you can DRINK ALCOHOL from Mustang Station next door attached to the bowling alley (only after 2pm) how could you not take this class if you have the chance? No joke, my bowling average went from 65 to 145 in the course of the ten weeks in class. They say practice makes perfect so take bowling and grab a beer to go with it just because you can. You won’t regret it.

DSC_0075
Comin’ at ya

PSY 202 “General Psychology”

This was an actual academic class which is normally taken for class credit, and I actually had to try to study for it even though it was a course I just decided to take for fun. It was an enormous lecture style class once a week, and then meetings with a professor in a smaller class workshop setting during week as well. I learned a lot in this class. It was by no means an “easy A” but if you need D4 credit, and you’re interested in the way the human mind operates, I would definitely recommend taking this class. Also, DO go to the lecture, because the professors choose very specific lecture questions to test on the midterm. And also just because it’s cool to learn about the human mind.

brain

DANC 132 “Beginning Modern Dance”

I haven’t danced formally since I was seven, when I took Irish step dancing. You can imagine how much my Irish step dancing teacher loved that my name is Molly O’Brien (it’s a very Irish name). This class was a good experience for me because I felt really out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what modern dance really was until I took this class…

We learned fitness techniques and vocabulary for certain dance moves. We even put on a performance with the rest of the upper level dance classes at the end of the quarter. For this course we didn’t have any huge scary scantron exams, but I did have the requirement to go to a Cal Poly dance show and write a paper about it, which was honestly a really great experience because I had never taken the time to appreciate the beauty and effort it takes to create an entire dance performance until this class. I would recommend it if you like to move and have an interest in trying something new. 

dance
Definitely me dancing

BIO 123 “Biology of Sex”

This class counted for my general education credit in the “B” science area. Despite its provocative name it’s not a dirty class by any means… in fact it’s a very factually driven scientific class on the topic of reproduction. Our professors for this class were so passionate about the process of reproduction and so excited to tell us all about the multiplication of cells when snails (or really any other animal for that matter) are making babies that it was interesting on a deeply molecular level. I learned so much about reproduction that I would not have been taught in any “health” or “sex ed” class. This class does require a level of maturity, respect, and understanding. You’re not just going to be sitting there talking about sex for two hours twice a week, you’re going to be learning about all different ways animals on our Earth reproduce and it’s fascinating. You’ll also be taught the valuable life lesson of how to a sense of humor and laugh at yourself during uncomfortable moments.

IMG_1059.JPG
Giraffes fight each other with their necks. Ouch

GRC 377 “Web Print and Publishing”

This class supported my minor and counted for area “F” general education credit. It was a class where we learned how to use the Adobe Suite including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver, even using the programs to code and build our own website. It challenged me and my patience (building a website is hard!) but gave me skills that I can use to market myself for a huge range of jobs now in the future that I wouldn’t have had access too if I didn’t know basic coding. I also learned more than I ever would have guessed possible on typography. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 16.19.16
My own built website

DANC 210 “Active Wellness”

This class doesn’t really have much to do with dancing despite the official course name, it’s about general physical well being, health, and fitness. It teaches everything that high  school health class should have but didn’t. I just started taking it this Spring quarter of 2018, so I’m still learning what it’s all about, but basically every class we have a lecture on different aspects of health such as fitness and exercise, and then we do a series of exercises which teaches us about the fitness in our own body. We learn about muscles, bones, and the way our bodies work in a healthy, noncompetitive, and judgement free environment. It’s a great class if you’re passionate about health and wellness or just want to learn more about how to be a generally healthy person. 

IMG_6168
I do this pose literally everywhere

Flame-working

This wasn’t an academic class, it was through the Cal Poly craft center. That means that we didn’t have to worry about grades or exams! It was $85 to take and we met 6 times during the quarter in two hour sessions with a student instructor. I learned so much, burned myself a couple times, and made some really beautiful creations like marbles, pendants and even sculpture pieces. Now, I’m hooked! I bought a “propane card” pass for use of the torch and propane outside of class time, as well as many more colors of glass to experiment with.

IMG_4796.jpg

If I had more time here I would have taken ART 102 (which seems kind of impossible to get into but fun, WVIT 210 because yes I would love to help pick grapes and make wine in a vineyard, FSN 121 which is cooking class, and the chocolate making class because cooking is fun and getting class credit for it is even more fun, BRAE 141 because why wouldn’t I need to learn how to drive a tractor, the equestrian horse riding class, and SO much more. Let me know if there are any fun classes I forgot especially if they don’t have prerequisites!!

 

Impending Adulthood (For REAL This time, though…) + Upcoming SLO Restaurant Guide

I haven’t written a reflection post in a while. This blog has really evolved into something special since I started it the Summer before my sophomore year at Cal Poly SLO. It’s given me the opportunity to express myself, grow and improve in my writing, and get some exposure (I’m talking hundreds of views a week, now for some posts, WOW!). It’s never been “work” for me. It’s been somewhere that I can write what I want how I want in my own voice without an editor other than my own self. I have had schoolwork, and assigned work of writing for internships but this blog has always been something special to me because it’s me writing what I want, on my own time.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0939.
Sunrise hike up Bishops Peak

In less than four months I’ll be graduating from college at Cal Poly and leaving San Luis Obispo. I can start to see the graduation caps and gowns coming into focus in the near future. For this reason, I’ve kinda been going a bit crazy (yes I’m always crazy, but right now more than usual!) and I’ve been packing into my life trying many new things here in SLO, before they make me leave (I guess graduating college is a huge accomplishment and what not but come on, it’s been a  great time).

fullsizerender-15
Valencia Peak

I know that when the time comes in June it will be hard, but adulthood for real will be a new challenge and a new adventure and the opportunity to move on to something new. I’m just really going to miss writing for this blog. Because it hit me the other day that I can’t write an “adulthood in SLO” blog, like, if I don’t live in SLO anymore… But I’ve crossed of a LOT of stuff off my bucket list these last few years. It’s been amazing being able to live life to the fullest.

And I’ve really packed in a lot of new stuff to my SLO bucketlist for these last few months of University at Poly. I’m trying a new restaurant every week here in SLO that I haven’t tried before and oh man has it been such a great experience. I didn’t eat out at all as a freshman (no car to go off campus and we had dining plans with the school) and I rarely ate out as a sophomore or junior, but now I’m trying to make up for it. I know eating out is expensive, but I hadn’t really appreciated the amazing amount of eatery options available in San Luis Obispo and the surrounding area until I started to go out more.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7286.
(Trying to) Sandboard on the MDO Dunes

The coffee shops here in SLO are amazing, too. I probably spend more money on coffee than I do on food… I know that wherever I move is going to have to have to have some great coffee shops. 😉  And the breweries and wineries in SLO, WOW. I wasn’t 21 until 8 months ago so I’m still trying to catch up with the amazing amount of breweries and wineries to visit in the area.

Anywho, I’m starting a restaurant page on this blog too because even though I’m no “Yelp,” I really love sharing my experiences with everyone of my adventures on the Central Coast. So stay posted for my new “restaurant bucketlist” page.  And keep updated for the remaining craziness as senior year continues…

IMG_5118
Finding new hikes every day

Behind the Scenes of Traveling for a Week Straight: What I learned on my Spring Break

Life is about traveling outside of your comfort zone. If you’re not feeling a bit uncomfortable, then you’re not growing. Growing requires discomfort. In order to grow, you need to leave your comfort zone and be vulnerable in the open. Only there, can you accept new ideas openly.

This Spring Break Conner and I traveled down the Southern Coast of California for a week straight stopping in Santa Barbara, Ventura, the Santa Cruz Island, Huntington Beach, Venice Beach, and San Diego. We took the Pacific Coast Highway and sailed along the water which was straight out of a daydream, but with daydreams come nightmares. There were a lot of challenges we faced by traveling a week straight on the trip. Traveling has its high’s and low’s and you have to have the face low’s to get to appreciate the high’s. 

IMG_7415

When we got to where we were staying on the first night away from our sheltered Central Coast city of San Luis Obispo, we were both certainly uncomfortable, but also very excited. It sounds a bit dramatic, but we’re definitely not the same people we were when we left. We learned a lot about ourselves, and the world.

The lessons we learned on our trip are as follows:

Traveling for a week straight can be pretty exhausting. We had nowhere to be during the day to just have a place to rest, because we stayed in a different hostel each night. I left my winter jacket (the bane of my existence, I get cold a lot…) in a hostel in Venice Beach. It was the fourth day of our trip and I was very sleep deprived so I got much more upset about it than I should’ve when I realized it was gone. I was angry at myself for being so irresponsible…but people make mistakes. And usually these kind of small mistakes are very fixable with a little help. This leads me to my next lesson. People usually want to help you out. 

People in many parts of the world are generally good, so have faith. It is important to remember to look out for yourself in unfamiliar places but it is also important to trust and to have confidence in the humans around you. My jacket was in the lost and found at the hostel. No one had stolen it and it was right where I had left it in the storage room. I was so cynical believing that there was no chance I would get it back and that certainly someone has spotted this expensive jacket and decided it was theirs, but we called the hostel and the woman working put it aside for us to pick up on our way home the next day.

Another representation of a time we practiced trust was in La Jolla when I was trying to fit my car into a parking spot inches to small for even my tiny car, and a dad with his two kids saw me struggling among the flow of busy traffic to parallel park my car. He knocked on the window and asked if we needed a hand. I was skeptical and almost declined his offer, but he looked like a good guy. He handed his coffee and hat to his kids next to him and proceeded to do the best parallel parking job I have ever seen. There are a lot of bad people in the world but also a lot of good.

You don’t have to know where you’re going to have a successfully good time. There’s a difference between having no idea what’s happening/where you’re going, and having the desire to explore the world with no plan. We did plan out most of our trip to ensure a safe and successful vacation, but some of the best parts of the trip were the parts where we didn’t have a particular destination in mind. On Santa Cruz Island we picked a hike in a direction that looked nice because Conner doesn’t like maps or recipes (which is odd because he’s a straight forward thinking engineer) and it was a beautiful hike along the plateau of the island that ended in a secluded beach which the bluest water I’ve ever seen. When we were in Venice Beach we wandered along the boardwalk and came upon a street show with the Calypso Tumblers and watched them backflip over a dude who was six feet tall. In the Gas Lamp Quarter of San Diego we wandered along the main drag and came upon a restaurant called Cafe 21 and watched a woman flamenco dance and shared the best chocolate crepe cake of my life. Life is about the journey and not always the destination, so enjoy the ride. 

Let yourself let loose every once in a while! I’m not great at napping or at sleeping in general but in Santa Barbara we went to the Salt Caves and did a meditation session which included me falling asleep and waking up feeling more refreshed than I would have after a full night’s rest. Shortly after we went on a hike to inspiration point where I ate back all the calories I had burned on the hike by sharing (and finishing) a whole bag of jelly beans with Conner at the summit. I indulged in an ice cream at Salt and Straw, I devoured the tiramasu french toast at Brockton Villa in La Jolla, and decided to donate money to a very wise young monk in Balboa Park (using a card reader on his own iPhone…? He says they’re wealthy La Jolla monks…). He then gave me a book on “the human purpose” and his blessing at which point, I’m totally serious, the sun came out for the first time that day. Thank you, buddhist sun God. 

IMG_7456

The world is a very big place with a lot of adventures still to be had, so do not have fear. We met a variety of people from a variety of cultures in the world in our hostels who taught us about where they were from and gave us advice for our future travels. Turns out, even European kids like a good game of beer pong in the States. If you’re afraid of falling, then you can never fly, and you will not make it to the end of the Ho Chi Minh trail in La Jolla on the edge of a cliff. You will not make it to the edge of potato chip rock at the top of Mt. Woodsen. You won’t make a new Australian friend who spent the last three months surfing his way through Mexico.

There’s a lot to learn about the world around that you can’t learn reading a book or online, but simply by exploring. We learned about the difference between sea lions and seals up close, what roads to take in LA traffic (and how to deal with the angry LA commuters). We learned about a difference in safety between exploring Venice at night vs the Gas Lamp Quarter in San Diego at night, and how the entire fire department of San Diego will send seven fire trucks to your hostel at 3am if one person smells smoke in the laundry room (which is good to know how prepared they are). We learned about the difference between many character types of hostels in terms of their particular essences such as how social they are, what amenities they have, and what stories their inhabitants tell. 

IMG_7356

Even though it was only a 6 day trip it was an amazing Spring Break. We hit 8 different beaches in the six different days and traveled over 600 miles meeting people from many diverse countries to find out that the world is a big place which is meant to be explored if only you’re brave enough to get out of your comfort zone.