4 Basic Travel Tips for Your First European Journey

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Ireland

As many of you know, I recently got back to the United States after a trip to Europe. We toured Ireland, Wales and England for what seemed like too short of a journey. Travel lust has set it in and I’m already planning a future backpacking trip in Wales.

A few travelers in our group had never been on a plane, much less out of the country. It’s nerve wracking, yet exciting, to be doing something you’ve never done before. So, I decided to let you all in on a few basic travel tips that help you during a trip overseas.

 

  1. Don’t forget your passport. Yes, I know. This seems self explanatory, but some people do forget. Also, while your traveling from hotel to hotel, or country to country, make sure you always keep your passport in one place. A friend on my trip forgot her passport at one of our hotels. It happens. Make sure to keep a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust.
  2. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. One subject people always ask about is money. Please don’t convert dollars to euros or pounds before heading overseas. The conversion rate is staggering. Wait until you get to an airport ATM to draw out cash (there are ATM’s everywhere, don’t worry about access). Also, many credit and debit cards work overseas. I would recommend Capital One or Visa .
  3. Safety first. Some travelers are so scared of pickpockets that they don’t enjoy walking through a city. Be vigilant of your surroundings, but make sure to take in the atmosphere.
  4. People are people. A girl we traveled with told me her greatest fear was not fitting in overseas. Traveling is a perfect way to see that all people eat, sleep and breathe. Don’t be scared to ask questions of the locals, or to travel a little outside your comfort zone. Most people are willing to give directions and tips about their city.

I hope these basic tips help you in planning your next adventure. Let me know where you’re going in the comments below!

Travel On,

Rebecca

INSPIRE: 6 Steps to Becoming an Effective Leader

Welcome to the next installment of the INSPIRE series. This piece is written by Matt, a driven leader who wants to share his insight with others. Enjoy & share!

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I say this in two parts: first, the overarching theme that I am about to share with you is not groundbreaking, though it is my goal to shine it in a different light through my experiences. Second, and most importantly, I have failed numerous times in individual opportunities to lead others effectively; however, without these trying moments I would have never gained some of the most valuable lessons that I have to share with you. I do not claim to be a perfect leader, but I do claim to be an individual who strives each day to serve others better than I did the day before. The following are just a few of the lessons that I have learned. I hope that they help you as much as they’ve helped me!

“An effective leader will always pass the recognition onto the general body…”

  1. Leadership is a mindset. Many people will claim that “leaders” posses a certain talent or skill. However, I have found that leadership is more so dependent on a state of mind. While personality traits such as confidence, innovation, and decisiveness may enhance an individual’s potential to be a great leader, even the most skilled individuals may not be able to lead if they aren’t willing to put others before themselves. Effective leaders shift the focus from themselves onto those whom they are serving. Every action that you take within your role should be taken with the intention of benefiting the people or organization that you are serving.
  2. Find your role. As a leader, you will have a large influence in determining the direction that your organization takes. The question arises: How can you effectively lead without knowing your own role? Without a true understanding of your position, your potential as an effective leader will remain untapped because the time and energy that you invest into the organization will lack structure. Luckily, many organizations have a written description of their positions and the roles assigned to each. Read them. Additionally, ask your fellow members how they would like to see you integrate your leadership abilities in the organization. No matter how established your organization may be, your members will be satisfied knowing that they picked the right person to represent them if you let them play a role in determining how you lead the organization.
  3. Set realistic goals. After you have defined your role as a leader, take some time with your members to facilitate the establishment of the organization’s goals. These goals should be measurable and under the control of your organization. I recommend setting no more than five goals at a time so you will be able to pay proper attention to each of them individually.
  4. Follow through. Once you have listed your organization’s goals, now comes the time to plan out exactly how you are going to accomplish them. Though it may seem odd at first, I have found an approach called backwards planning or backwards goal-setting to be extremely helpful in completing daily tasks and long term goals. This mindset puts the focus on where you want to be at some point in time rather than concentrating mainly on where you are currently. To use this approach, first, picture your organization accomplishing a specific goal. Then, ask yourself what your organization would need to do just before that moment to reach the specific goal. In doing so, you have set a subgoal that will occur just prior to accomplishing the final goal. Repeat this step over and over again until you find yourself where you are currently. Retracing your steps from the finish line to the starting point will provide you with a roadmap to success by breaking down even the largest goals into smaller, more attainable pieces.
  5. Build individualized relationships in your organization. No two people are exactly the same. So why would you use the same approach to motivate members in your organization to accomplish a desired task? Your members are driven in their daily life by various factors, which will come into play when fulfilling their responsibilities in your organization. Thus, an effective leader will take the time to get to know each of his or her members on a personal level. By discovering the different reasons that each member joined, not only will you gain a better perspective of what they would like to see in the future, but you will also identify ways in which they can be inspired to help the organization reach its goals.
  6. Recognize others and share thanks. Oftentimes, the leader is looked to as the face of an organization. This can be a very humbling experience for many leaders, as you will be congratulated for nearly everything that the organization accomplishes, regardless of how involved you were with the process. An organization’s daily operation requires the hardwork of many people working together and thus an effective leader will always pass the recognition onto the general body or to those who were responsible for the feat.

Organizational leaders go to phenomenal efforts to see that goals are met and deadlines are reached. There may be times where you feel overwhelmed and overworked, but never let a day go by that you don’t thank those around you for the unconditional support that they offer you. In due time, you will see the work that you put in pay off through the positive impacts that you make on your organization and its members.

 

For the past year and a half, Matt has served as the Chapter President for Phi Delta Theta – Missouri Iota at Lindenwood University. Along the way, he has gathered countless pieces of information on how to be a more effective leader from personal experiences, lessons from other leaders, and many missteps.

INSPIRE: Life’s a Lake

Welcome to the next installment of the INSPIRE series. This metaphorical piece relates a lake to life. I hope you enjoy this article by the artistic Jen as she takes you on an inspirational journey. 

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Growing up, most of my favorite summer memories were on the lake. I was one with nature and I was in my own paradise. I would just float in an inner tube for hours. Rain or shine, I was on the water. The lake would just set my soul on fire.  This is where I would be the most relaxed, where I was my true self. Being surrounded by gentle waves and warm rays of sunshine, adventure was endless.

“You can make your corner as clean and colorful as you want.”  

Think of life like the lake. You are surrounded by all things good and natural. Every day is a new story, a new adventure, a new start.  You control the vibes the water send you. You are in control of letting the bad vibes drip down the pier and sink to the bottom of the lake. You will receive the vibes you give out. The lake is just a canvas, in which everyone has a piece. You can make your corner as clean and colorful as you want. Why make it dark and gloomy?

Sometimes things get in the way of our happiness in life. The water will carry toxic relationships, depression, or accidents. We let this pollute our lake. We forget how amazing our lives are and how fortunate we are to live in a world of adventure and love. The dark clouds of anger and hatred may cover the warm rays of sunshine, but we have options. Wait for the clouds to pass, or look past them to the horizon. Life is our lake, and we only have so many days to make the most of it! Don’t spend your days inside, hiding from the rest of the world.

“Take some time to focus on you.”

What does your lake look like? Do you need to clean up a little? Take some time to focus on you; it’s okay to take some time to clean up your lake. Come out and enjoy the sunshine. Life may get you down, but you can either stay at the bottom of your lake or swim up to surface. Surround your lake with only the best people for you. The water carries vibes both ways. This is just some inspiration for a lovely life.

 

Jen Wunder is a junior at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri. She is an Interactive Media and Web Design major with a passion for branding. Jen also writes for the Odyssey Online, and is currently interning with the River City Rascals. In her free time, Jen is usually found at hockey games screaming her heart out. She loves Disney vacations, Gingham’s pancakes at 3am, and heart-to-heart talks with her Tri Sigma sisters.

INSPIRE: A Day in the Life of a Marketing Intern

Welcome to the next installment of the INSPIRE series. This day in the life piece is written by yours truly. I hope you enjoy, share and spread the love. 

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Awhile ago I applied to be a Marketing/Public Relations intern on Nestlé Purina’s website. After a phone interview and a 4 hour in-person interview, I was hoping and praying that the job would be mine. A few weeks later I received a phone call from my (now) boss offering me the position! I was ecstatic and have been at the company for a 1.5 years (#purinaemp).

Since I was still in school, I was able to create my own schedule. I work around 25 hours a week and enjoy learning about the business. I’m the only intern in the department, so I’m treated like another member of the team. In a month I will be leaving this wonderful place to move to a new city for a new full-time job. To commemorate my time there, here’s a day in the life of a marketing/public relations intern.

7:45 am – I wake up after hitting my old friend the snooze button a few times. Rolling out of bed, I throw on running tights and a tank top and head out the door. I like to run a few times a week when it’s nice outside. Back at the house, I get in a few squats before stretching and call it a workout.

8:40 am – I stand outside my closet debating what I should wear. After a few outfit changes, I settle on my go – to: a pair of black trousers, a peach button down and wedges. I grab my sunglasses, lunch, work ID and backpack and head out the door.

9:00 am – I try to get coffee only a few times a week, and today is one of those times. I swing by Starbucks for an iced caramel macchiato and pay with the app (that app is handy!).

9:40 am – Traffic was light today so I get into the office twenty minutes early. Since I get to create my own schedule, I work three days a week from 10 am- 5 pm. Settling in, I turn on my computer, fan and Spotify playlist.

10 am – I check my calendar for the day, set up some meetings and make my to-do list. Summer is a slow time in the Public Relations world, so I’m mainly working on research projects for upcoming events. My boss pokes his head into my office to say good morning and to confirm our meeting for later.

11 am – The team I work with sends me a calendar invite for my own farewell lunch. I can’t believe I’m leaving in a few weeks! I send out the daily coverage update for the team and scratch it off my to-do list.

12 pm – I head into a meeting with my boss. We go over a few project details and talk about his recent interview for television.

12:45 pm – It’s absolutely gorgeous outside! I go for a quick walk in the company garden before heating up my lunch from home.

2 pm – I visit one of my close friends at her office. She just got back from a white water rafting vacation and I want to hear all about it. Her one regret is being severely sunburned. Wear sunscreen people.

3 pm – My boss sends me a long list of influencers that need to be vetted. These are celebrities and social media accounts that Purina could potentially work with. I scour the internet and do a basic background check to see if they fit with the brand. This project takes me until the end of the day.

5:15 pm – I send out my daily tasks to the team and shut down my computer.

6:30 pm – Getting home, I heat up a few leftovers and play hoops with my super athletic mother.

7:30 – I settle in to work on a few upcoming blog posts (there’s some good ones coming!). I grab a mug of green tea, my laptop and planner. There’s nothing like being organized. While typing a few emails, I turn on America’s Got Talent. That show is hilarious.

9:15 pm – I leave my house to go catch the new Pirates movie with a friend. It’s $5 movie night and I never pass up an Orlando Bloom film.

12:00 am – I finally get back home and am ready to catch some zzz’s.

 

I hope you enjoyed this tiny peek into my day-to-day life. Let me know in the comments below.

xx,

Rebecca

 

 

INSPIRE: This is Why I’m Single

Welcome to the first installment of the INSPIRE series. This ‘list-icle’ is a piece about being single written by the fabulous Kayla. Enjoy and share!

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I’m sassy, sweet, and most definitely single. In a world of random hookups, relationships, multiple marriages, and overall jumping from partner to partner I remain a constant independent being. Now, I have nothing against the dating world and those who inhabit it (people should live their lives the way they want), but sometimes I’m not the most eager to become a part of it. I won’t completely shut it out, but I won’t pursue it either.

My single-ness is often the center of many, many jokes (made by myself of course). If you can’t laugh at yourself, no one else will. Anyway, there was a point where after any weird joke or silly pun I would laugh and tell my friends “This is why I’m single.” It often made the joke funnier. I said that phrase so many times I was told I should just write a book titled This is Why I’m Single. But before I contact any publishers, this super sassy blog post will have to do!

So, here are the top reasons why I’m single:

1.) I’m different: I’ve noticed that teenage girls and young women my age stress themselves out about finding a partner. I’m not going to lie to you, I stress out about it too. But sometimes girls allow that stress to take control and they try to find instant gratification from guys. Searching for attention often leads to attention from the wrong people, which leads to a kind of pain no one should go through. To save myself from such horrors, I’ve decided to avoid that gratification.

2.) My time is precious: The only games I play are board games. I’m a full-time student, athlete, and sorority woman with a busy schedule and active social life. That means I don’t like to waste my time. If I feel like someone’s intentions are not pure I’m not afraid to say bye. Treat me like a joke and I’ll drop you like it’s funny.

3.) I got it from my mama: The first, most important boss lady in my life is most certainly my mother. She raised me to be independent, intelligent, and strong. She also raised me to live life my way and never let a man tell you what to do. My parents’ marriage is strong because they treat each other like equals and show each other love and respect. I expect nothing less once I enter in an adult relationship.

4.) Everything happens for a reason: “Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her” (Luke 1:45) I am a big believer in that everything happens for a reason. I have complete trust in God’s plan for me, and right now His plan is for me to be single. I know that when the time is right a nice Godly man will come into my life and the story will write itself. If it takes a few tries before I find said Godly man, I have faith that it will work out in the end. But for now, I’m okay with waiting.

So, there you have it, folks, my reasoning for being single. I praise those who have a healthy dating life and I praise those who choose to be single. This post isn’t meant to insult or give instruction on how to handle your personal life, it’s meant to give perspective on my personal thoughts. Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t. That’s okay. But maybe, regardless of your beliefs, you’ll see this as inspiration for a lovely life. Because living the life you want to live is the most important part of living.

xoxo,

Kayla

Kayla Schimmer is young college woman who likes her coffee to reflect her personality: sweet, a little bitter, and fully caffeinated. Some of her hobbies include blogging, bowling, and binge-watching Netflix. You can check out her blog (Sassy, Sweet & Single) at sassysweetsingle.wordpress.com. She can also be found on Twitter @realschimshady_ and Instagram @kaylamsch and wouldn’t mind some new followers. She’s a people person!