Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Things to consider when travelling to the USA

So, being a complete noob at travelling, I have learnt a few things in the past week or two while planning a trip to the USA. Things that I think would make a really nice list. 

Take TSA approved locks

So this is something that I found on a forum somewhere, and I'm glad I did so. When you travel to the USA with ordinary locks, apparently they'll be broken open for your baggage inspection. So in order to avoid that, TSA officials have keys to the TSA approved locks. I'm a little skeptical as I'm sure that criminals can easily obtain these, buuuuut it's still a step up from having no protection on your baggage. TSA approved locks can be bought at Mr. Price Sport (2 for R100), or from Dischem for about R10 more than that (and they come in bright and pretty colours!)

Make sure to buy plugs before leaving

This scared little guy (the plug point, don't you think he looks frightened/ surprised?) is the standard plug point in the USA. Also make sure that the things you are planning to charge won't be blown up by different voltages etc. (this is something that my Engineer fiance should actually write on!).


Get someone to check all of your times and dates

We had a very near dilemma because of a slight error. Our airport shuttle was going to arrive to take us to the airport at the time that we were supposed to be checking in! Luckily we noticed in time to change arrangements, but this could have messed up a huge chunk of our trip. Make sure that when you book things, you have someone else check them for you. Juuust to be super extra sure. 

If you're scared of getting fat on your visit, invest in a resistance band and a skipping rope

This is something that I should have bought a long time ago as a travel aid. Resistance bands are light and compact, and may just be the difference between maintaining that tummy and getting a bulge. 

There are numerous workouts available online, such as the one below.


Also, don't forget to take a skipping rope along. Skipping is something that can be done in a small space (just watch out for lights etc.!) and it's really good cardio. 

Make sure that your dollars aren't too old 

Something that you neeever would imagine to be a problem is the fact that sometimes if you have old dollars, they may not be accepted in the country. This is because the older dollars are easier to counterfeit. I went to Bidvest Bank Bureau de Change to swap some old dollars. They charged me R75 to swap them, which was nothing for piece of mind. 

Book online beforehand

You'll notice that a lot of places have cheaper rates when you buy tickets online, so rather do that. Plan your trip well, and have everything paid for and ready. This avoids problems with having to carry around too much extra cash, and usually with pre-booked tickets you get to skip the line. Booking online saves a few dollars per ticket, so in the end you probably have enough left over for a whole extra activity, or even a very decent meal for two! 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Why being not-quite-yet-grownup sucks

So, this may seem like a very emo blog post, and that's not surprising. Growing up is awful. I recommend that no one ever tries to do it. If you have the opportunity, die before you turn twenty (no, not really!). I feel like I'm currently dealing with a second, more fierce round of puberty. This puberty is far less forgiving, more soul devouring and a hell of a lot more stressful.

Tiny heart
Stuck inside yourself
When will you open up?


So, I decided to make a list of things that are really sucking in my life right now, and that I am seriously struggling with. Who knows, maybe this post will be relatable. Maybe in 5 years I'll look back and laugh at how immature and dumb I am. Either way, it's getting published.

1. You kind of have to repress all of your emotions for fear of seeming immature

Ha, this one is probably the worst. I just realized that this was a thing when I came up with the idea of writing this post. I thought, "What if people look at this and think I think like a child?". This is something that I struggle with a lot. Recently I've been under so much pressure, but I just can't exactly express it. I don't know what is childish ignorance and what is pure adult fear. And quite honestly, I'm far too scared to find out from someone else.

2. You could currently be making the kind of mistakes you'll look back on and regret when you're 50 

This is something that has scared me since I finally got out of my shitty high school relationship. If you've ever spoken openly and honestly with a "fully grown up", you can hear regrets. And some of them are too close to home. I know I've already got a few that I'm going to kick myself for until the day I die, I'm just working on trying to avoid having any further ones...

Twenty-twenty surgery
Well, twenty twenty surgery for cheap
Dollar signs doll up a picture perfect point of view


3. Your mess ups now influence your entire life

On a very similar note, anything you screw up now influences YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. If I mess up my final year, I don't get into honours. If I don't get into honours, I have no chance of getting into masters. If I don't get into masters, I'll never get my doctorate.

Domino effect.

4. You have to put aside your selfish desires for the sake of your future, and of other peoples happiness

This seems to come with being a well-adapted person in general. Feeling usually leads to hurting others. The world seems to have such a conflicting view on this.

"Get rid of poisonous people"
"Be there whenever your friends need to be"

Where do you draw the line between being used and just being a good person? Where do your emotions start and stop being important? When is it okay to feel and when should you shut up?

5. It's suddenly up to you to make decisions with regards to moderation 

Every one of my friends has had an absolute wobbly in the last few years. Some go through a fat stage (I had a suuper chubby stage- too much pizza!), some turn into alcoholics (guilty), some resort to other drugs (nicotine, marijuana, cocaine is huge in Stellenbosch, scarily enough).

I could follow you to the beginning
Just to relive the start
Maybe then we'd remember to slow down
At all of our favourite parts

When you're a kid, your parents monitor you. They determine what nights you get ice cream for supper, the fact that you have vegetables on your plate every night... These are all things that seem so simple to a child, tedious even, but when you're on your own you realise just how important all of those things are. Suddenly you have to monitor your intake. No one is going to stop you from taking advantage of (Mystics pizza specials on Sunday night, Aandklas pizza specials on Monday, Sergeant Pepper's pizza specials on Tuesday, Java/ Spar's pizza specials on Wednesdays...) all of the things that you can suddenly have at your own leisure.

In first year, There was a week when I ate a bowl of jelly every night for a whole week.

In second year, Robertson's box wine was on the menu every night.

In third year, pizza specials were a daily occurrence.

This year, moderation is key. Gym 5 times a week, junk food once or twice a week, limited (although not as limited as it should be) wine per day (yes, per day. Don't judge! One thing at a time). Although shaky, my moderating skills are growing.

Next year, hopefully I'll have aced moderation.

You call me up again just to break me like a promise
So casually cruel in the name of being honest

Moderation is a bitch, but it's something we all have to learn. The worst thing is that one only tends to learn this when you sit alone in bed missing your moms cooking. Wishing that she'd tell you that you can't have chocolate tonight. That you have to do a sport that term. That you're too young for beer.

It was rare, I was there
I remember it
All too well 

6. You have to learn that in the end, the only person who is really there for you is yourself 

I don't think many people come to terms with this one, ever. I aim to make it something that I come to accept in time, as I think I am already starting to do. I find myself more capable of looking after myself. When I'm sad, I can help myself.

When I was a teenager, I went through a lot of crap, I was your typical emo child. Self mutilation, the dark music, all the attention seeking crap that I didn't think was so at the time. I was just expressing myself, going through the rhythms of teenage year. Not eating, becoming anorexic, all because I relied far too much on other people, their consultation and what they thought of me.

Her hair is Harlowe gold
Her lips sweet surprise
Her hands are never cold


Now days, I still get the same urges. I go a day or so starving myself every once in a  while, I toy with the romantic idea of a blade. I daydream about what it would be like to have someone to put everything in line for me, to look after me and care for me like a child for the rest of my life.

And then I snap out of it. What the hell is the point in that? I am an individual. I can't expect to be treated as an individual if I cannot learn to look after myself. When I cry, I cry alone. And I cry until I cannot cry anymore. I don't need to be babysat or watched after, because I can care for myself. I know when I'm just being emotional, and when I need to ask for help.

This, I think, is a vital part of growing up. It's knowing that not everything is set in stone. Not even your parents can be there for you all the time, nor can a lover. Everyone either leaves you or you leave them, whether through choice or not (such as death). It's how the world works, and the sooner you learn to look after yourself and love yourself unconditionally, the better. Because you can't expect anyone else to.

7. You can't keep making irresponsible decisions and expecting people to overlook them 

Mess up a test in primary school? You're young.
Stumble into the house drunk as a teenager? You're experimenting.

Those things just don't fly anymore. Parents are no longer held accountable for your mistakes. The decisions you make are your own, and no one else can be held responsible.

8. Being a dreamer starts becoming less and less appealing 

Haha, this is something I always dreaded. The day I turned my back on my dreams and settled for something that can earn me a living. Yes, that sounds like something I'll regret. And who knows, maybe it is something I'll hate about myself in the future, but at least I'll have food on the table. Sadly, I've come to terms with the fact that at this point in life, I cannot support myself as I'd like to. I cannot get by with selling paintings of sad looking abused women, and I can't make money off of silly crafts that only my friends and family like.

So one day he found her crying
Coiled up on the dirty ground
Her prince finally came to save her
And the rest you can figure out
But it was a trick
And the clock struck twelve
Well make sure to build your heart brick by boring brick
Or the wolf's gonna blow it down


Although depressing, it's also liberating to start thinking of being able to support oneself. Because, going back to the idea of you being the only person who will always be there for yourself, if everything goes up in flames you're going to want to be able to support yourself. I want to try my hardest to be self sufficient, despite my relationship status. Although I feel it's very important to combine resources when sharing your life with someone, I think it's very important to not rely fully on said person. Back up plans are vital, and having a stash of cash hidden away somewhere never hurt anyone (except maybe in a cowboy movie).

9. Things are either one way or another 

There's no more compromise. This is a hard one.
You don't get into a course, it's final.
You get rejected for a job, that's that.

There's no calling your mom and asking her to call the principle. You have to learn to deal with all the awful things that life throws at you, ON YOUR OWN.

This is the hardest thing for me. My first instinct is always to complain. Burst into someone's office, shout at them in the hopes that they'll give in.

All these thoughts locked inside
Now you're the first to know

When darkness turns to light
It ends tonight,
It ends tonight.
Just a little insight won't make this right
It's too late to fight
It ends tonight


Unfortunately this is where dignity and reputation comes into play. There's just some things that you have to accept, no one cares about your little problems.

I used to firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that fate is always on your side. I don't think I believe this anymore. Things go wrong for you, and the world keeps turning. Nothing is going to go your way if you aren't working your ass off. And even if you are, sometimes life just sucks. Sometimes things just aren't going to happen, and you just have to deal with it. Sometimes there's nothing you can do about it.

So, there's my delightfully cheerful view on being an "in between grown up". If you have any comments, don't be shy!

I look forward to reading back on this in a few years, just to see how my feelings have changed. Who knows, maybe I'll have grown up!

Songs mentioned in this post

Flyleaf: Tiny Heart


Paramore: All I wanted was you


Taylor Swift: All too well


Kim Carnes: Bette Davis Eyes


Paramore: Brick by Boring Brick


All American Rejects: It Ends Tonight