Travel Tips and Tricks: Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day

This year my boyfriend and I visited Dublin, Ireland for a long weekend over St. Patrick’s Day. I have been planning this surprise trip since December as a birthday present for Conor, who was born lucky on St. Patrick’s Day! Since it was a surprise, I also got to do all the research and planning for the trip (my favorite part!).

How to get there:

Since Dublin is just a hop skip and a jump away from Cambridge we had a few option for how to get there. However, the time constraint limited these options.

  • Drive: the drive would have taken nine hours, so this was less preferable since we had to leave on Sunday the 17th due to other commitments.
  • Train: this would have required multiple stops and changes, as well as the ferry ride, so also not preferable, though doable.
  • Fly: the short flight would only cost us about 4 hours in total travel time (including airport time). And there are great deals over the holidays to take advantage of! So, I chose this option.

Flight:

I chose to fly Ryanair because of the low fares, and only because of the low fares. We flew out early Sunday morning and came back Tuesday evening. For such a sort trip, we only needed backpacks, no extra cabin baggage or checked baggage necessary. I paid extra to pick our seats, but that was the only add-on. I was able to score two round-trip tickets for the low price of $126 (I booked while I was in the U.S. for Christmas). If we were going for longer, I would have looked at other airlines because the fees on Ryanair add up quickly so it might be more cost effective to book with another airline that has higher ticket prices but better benefits. For us, this ended up being the cheapest option as well as the most time-effective. Upon arrival, we bought AirLink Express round trip tickets for 12 euros to get into the city center and back on Tuesday.

What to do:

I researched things to do in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day as well as other tourist things to do since we would be there for three days. I mostly used Pinterest and TripAdvisor

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

  • St. Patrick’s Day Parade: We arrived in the city center around 11:15am and the place was already packed, the streets lined with thousands of people decked out in green, ready to watch the multitude of marching bands and people waving from the back seat of convertibles. It was an incredible sight to see.
  • Temple Bar: The bars in this area didn’t open until noon or 12:30pm so we grabbed some fish and chips from a local stand in the meantime and walked around to check out all the different potential bars to stop at. Across the river from the Temple Bar area were also a bunch of hotels and pubs serving rowdy parade-goers.
  • The Temple Bar: As in the most famous bar in Dublin. This was our second stop and it was packed with young people from all around the world, drinking, singing, and dancing along to the live music. This bar is massive, I lost count of how many rooms we walked through. This was definitely the St. Patrick’s Day vibe we we’re here for!
  • Al Vesuvio: We stopped by this restaurant after seeing a sign for it on the main road during a desperate search for a free table. We ducked into the alley and around the back into a courtyard where the restaurant was located and were sat immediately (lucky!). It was an incredible Italian lunch and didn’t break the bank. I had a pizza and Conor had a pasta dish, paired with a glass of wine. The atmosphere was incredible, we were sat in an underground cavern with low lighting and decorated by shelves of wine bottles. I highly recommend and would definitely go back! There are definitely other places for lunch, but I would recommend making a reservation somewhere or be prepared to wait awhile with the mass of people all getting hungry around the same time.
  • St. Stephen’s Green: We walked past this park on St. Patrick’s Day because it was closed to the public, but visited it on Tuesday. It is great for a midday stroll or to sit and rest your feet for a bit. There are a few coffee shops nearby where you can grab a drink before walking around the park.
  • Dublin Castle: I was surprised by Dublin Castle, we stumbled upon it trying to find our way to St. Stephen’s Green. It is free admission and there are lovely gardens with memorials for different people. We didn’t go inside the castle, but we walked around the gardens and the grounds.
  • Old Jameson Distillery: We visited the distillery on Tuesday and were wowed by it. There is an amazing gift shop, which we would have taken advantage of but our carry-on luggage wouldn’t allow for it. In addition, there is a cocktail bar upon entering that serves unique and fun whiskey cocktails! I had a hot chocolate with whiskey and Conor had a orange old-fashioned. We sat at the bar for awhile and watched other cocktails being made, all of which looked gorgeous and delicious! There are a multitude of tours, differing in length and price. Unfortunately, we did not have time to do any of them.
  • Royal College of Physicians: This was a unique stop for us and required an appointment. The Royal College of Physicians has a small collection of Napoleonic artifacts, including a toothbrush, powder boxes, soap, and allegedly a piece of Napoleon’s coffin! Conor is fascinated by Napoleonic history, so I booked the tour of the collection as a surprise for him. Granted it is a small collection, but it has a fascinating history and I would recommend it for any history buffs!
  • Other places we visited in Dublin:
    • Christ Church Cathedral
    • National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
    • National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
    • Trinity College (not the Book of Kells)
    • Bunsen Burger
    • Cleaver East (tasting menu)
    • Oscar Wilde Statue
    • Merrion Square Park
    • Walked along the Seine

Places to Stay:

There are many places and ways to stay in Dublin. For a holiday like St. Patrick’s Day, it is important to book early!

  • Hostels: There are many hostels in the city center that cater to short stays for young people. The prices are unmatched. However, it is important to do your research about the place you’re staying at, the area it is in, and the proximity to where you want to spend your time. A private room in a hostel is just as expensive, if not more so, than a hotel. I would recommend this option only for those who are comfortable sharing a room.
  • Airbnb: This is a great option for staying in the city center, and there are some really cool and unique places to stay. Again, make sure you do research about the area you are in (safety first!). The prices vary, but you can definitely find a moderately priced place that won’t break the bank!
  • Apartments: Similar to Airbnb, there are apartment rental sites you can look at for places to stay. They specialized in, you guessed it, apartments! This may be difficult for a shorter stay, but prices and amenities are very similar to what Airbnbs offer.
  • Hotels: This can be the most expensive option, but you can also find moderate prices with great amenities! In addition, hotels have the added benefit of safety and security, but still do your research.

Conor and I stayed at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Dalkey, a small suburb of Dublin. I debated staying in the city center until I found out we could stay in a castle instead! There were a few other castles that have been turned into hotels, but the Fitzpatrick was in a great location and was the same price as the Airbnb I had been looking at in Dublin’s city center. We took a quick and cheap train (3 euros) to Dalkey on Sunday night and then a short taxi ride to the hotel (if it wasn’t dark we would have walked). The hotel was incredible- the staff were friendly and helpful, providing dental kits and a shaving kit; the buffet breakfast was delicious and plentiful; and the rooms were elegant, clean, and ours overlooked the sea! I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wanting to visit Dublin and stay somewhere unique.

On Monday, Conor and I explored Dalkey by hiking through Killiney Park which overlooked the sea and Dublin. We hiked down to the waterside and walked along the road overlooking the water. The views were gorgeous in the clear afternoon. In town, we went to Dylan’s Park where we could see Dalkey Islands and learned about the folklore surrounding the church and fort on the main island. For lunch, we ate at Ouzos, a small restaurant in town. We walked back to the hotel afterwards.

In the evening, we took a taxi to Johnny Fox’s Pub in Glencullen (Conor’s dad recommended it). It was a fun pub, full of those ironic and punny signs and local characters. We had dinner and drinks while listening to live music. It is the highest pub in Ireland, 280m above sea level! I highly recommend to anyone looking for a local pub out of the touristy parts.

It was a whirlwind of a trip, but one of the best travel experiences I have had! My biggest takeaway: do your research and planning, but have a little flexibility to be spontaneous!

Tackling the Difficulties of Finding a Job Abroad

Job searching, my sadistic lover.

When I first began the job hunt, about two months ago, I was wide-eyed, gleaming with excitement, clicking “Save” on every job posting that remotely interested me on LinkedIn and Indeed. I was so excited to begin the journey to my dream job. Two months later and I have bags under my eyes and a love-hate relationship with LinkedIn’s “Jobs” function, but, surprisingly, I haven’t lost hope that I will find and land a job I am actually excited about.

Being 23, I read a mix of Facebook statuses that range from university acceptance letters to pregnancy announcements to the cynical friend who has been job searching for a year and still can’t land a position in their field. Encouraging.

Alas, do not fear, my worried friends, for I am no cynic. In fact, in some cases, like the decision of what to do with the rest of my life, I am entirely optimistic. As I am new the realm of job hunting, I may not be able to offer seasoned advice, but I still think my journey thus far can be helpful to others who maybe haven’t started looking yet, or maybe (like my poor anonymous Facebook friend) are feeling really lost and hopeless in their own search.

When I first started thinking about careers, all I could focus on was working in the education department of museums, so I only looked at jobs in the education department of museums, select museums at that. However, after a conversation with my loving father, I realized that pigeon-holing myself so early was probably not the best idea. In addition, I realized that there were actually other areas in museums I found fascinating, like exhibits and program management. Furthermore, I asked myself what about these jobs do I like and can other jobs, outside museums, offer the same excitement and fascination? Yes! In fact, that loving father I previously mentioned, he went down a rabbit-hole of museum and cultural sector related jobs and industries, and came back up with one of the coolest jobs that I had no idea even existed. Museum and heritage consulting. I could work on a new project every other month in a new museum in a different department or sector! It’s like having your cake and eating it too! And BOY are there a ton of these consulting firms out there, it’s incredible!

Basically, what I am saying, is that I expanded my view of careers I am interested in because I figured out it’s not the career that matters, but what I find interesting, exciting, and engaging that matters. If a career can give me those feelings, I will apply to any job in any industry.

My job hunt is in its infancy, I know that. Most people apply to a hundred jobs, some people apply to five. It depends on a variety of factors and your job search is probably very different than mine. But I am not getting discouraged. Actually, I think the more I job hunt the more encouraged I get- I just keep finding more and more jobs I would want, and that is really exciting. It also offers me the opportunity to see my first job as a temporary job, one that can help me grow and expand into another position or industry down the line. I have so many years in the workforce ahead of me that my first job won’t be my last job. With this knowledge, I am sitting back, relaxing, and taking it one job application at a time.

To be transparent, I have applied to fifteen jobs in the past two months and heard back from a resounding zero. Am I disappointed and discouraged? Not at all. My name is out there, they have my resume and cover letter for the future, and there’s another job application waiting on my desktop. I can apply to five or five hundred, all I need is one to say yes. My odds look pretty good.

To My Best Friend Who Joined the Peace Corps:

My dearest Maggie Brim. Mags.

You are more than you could ever know. More loving, more generous, more humorous, more brave. And I could not be more proud to be your friend. Since I first met you you have inspired me in so many ways. But you’ve also grounded me. From the late night talks on the couch to the (very) early morning car ride back from Florida, you have always given me the space to talk freely and open my heart and thoughts. In my most anxious times, you anchored me. In my happiest times, you cheered for me. In my hardest times, you listened to me. 

F*ck I’m crying. 

Before I get so overly sappy and emotional, what I am trying to say is I love you. You have done so much for me and I hope I can return the favor in your future journey. Moving to a new country where you know no one isn’t going to be easy, but in this day and age you are never alone. I mean seriously. I can’t get rid of our friends, it’s almost like they care about me. And trust me, they care about you too. So while you may not immediately have the same support system in Ghana that you do in Columbus, we’re truly not far away. In fact, I will be in the same time zone! Which reminds me, don’t think you can get rid of me so easily just by moving halfway across the world. I look forward to the day I can scratch Ghana off my scratch map 🙂 

So Mags, be scared. Be nervous. Be anxious. Be worried. But never forget, you come from a very large family of strong, confident women who will always be by your side ready to back you up as you take on the world. Keep writing, keep dreaming, and please keep snapchatting me.

Love you to the moon and back,

Dane

Grad School Abroad- What I Didn’t Expect

I moved to England 38 days ago. It feels like years ago. I have nestled in to my one bedroom apartment above the famous Fitzbillies across the street from Pembroke College, my new home. Pictures hanging from string lights adorn my walls and the softest velour throw pillow lays haphazardly on my bed. My planner is filled with notes from each day, quickly scribbled as not to forget the memories as time flies by here.

There were so many images that filled my head when I thought about grad life before moving here. I pictured lonely nights in my room because friends would be hard to make in the graduate program. I pictured endless hours in the library with no reprieve because graduate school is incredibly difficult. I pictured a previously very involved student becoming solely focused on her program because there would be no time for anything besides books. I had built up these expectations of grad school being scary and hard and nothing like my undergrad because that’s all I had been told by mentors and friends.

Well, they were wrong. All of it was wrong…sort of.

I am at home here. In my month of being here, I have forged some of the strongest friendships I have ever known. I joined the university women’s football team and my college’s May Ball committee. I don’t spend countless hours in the library. Not because my program isn’t hard and doesn’t require work, but because I only have one class a day and a lot of time to prioritize. I’ve had many sleepless nights, due mostly to friends and club nights, rather than studying and stress-induced insomnia. In fact, I’ve only cried twice since being here, and one of those times was listening to the cast of Wicked sing “For Good”. Don’t get me wrong, I do get homesick quite often. The amount of times I have looked at my phone screen and quietly whispered to myself “I miss my dog” is too many to count. But I also have created this incredible support system here, fostered through shared experiences and the art of listening. And this is just the beginning.

As a graduate fresher I am constantly asked how I like it here so far. Sometimes it feels a little arrogant to say that I absolutely love it here and there isn’t anything I don’t like because I know that is not the case for everyone. Maybe I am still in the honeymoon phase and the homesickness hasn’t fully hit me. But I would like to think that these feelings are real and they are here to stay.

I truly love grad school, and that was not a sentence I ever thought I would utter.

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Travel Tips for the Untraveled

If you haven’t traveled by air before, or have and are looking for more tips, you have come to the right place! maybe. I fly at least four times a year, if not more, and most of those are long flights. So, I have a few tips and tricks for you, the untraveled. However, this list is not comprehensive, so see #2.

2. Read travel blogs.

I read a lot of travel blogs, and I travel a lot. There are so many tips and tricks to make flying easier and I am constantly looking. Many times I find things I already do, but then there are the gold mines, things I hadn’t thought of or haven’t tried.

3. Keep it simple.

There are a lot of tips and tricks out there that have you putting cords in sunglass cases, or something similar. I do not own a sunglasses case, and I am not going to go out of my way to buy one to hold cords while I travel. I try my best to keep it simple and work with what I’ve got. So, take all the advice from travel blogs with a grain of salt.

My carry-on contains deodorant, travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste, and make-up remover. I also pack all my electronics and cords in my carry-on. And snacks. That’s about it for me, give or take a few items depending on the flight and destination. I always wear leggings, a loose fitting tank, cardigan, and easy shoes. Today for example, I am wearing Birkenstocks with chinchilla themed socks, because it makes me happy. The little wins are important on long flights. And comfort is KEY.

4. Bring a reusable water bottle.

I just payed $5.59 for a water bottle in one of the airport stores. Do not make my mistakes. Bring a reusable water bottle that you can fill up once you are past security. It will save you a lot of money and keep you well hydrated for the flight.

5. Download the airline app before you get to the airport.

Airlines usually have their own apps that can do a range of things, such as flight status, check-in, and in flight entertainment. Southwest and United apps have the in-flight entertainment option, without which you will be stuck on a long haul flight with just your thoughts– no one wants that.

6. Lay out all the clothes you want to pack, and then rethink it all.

I am a notorious over-packer, it’s just who I am. So once, I have laid out all my clothes, I go back through them asking myself various questions. Do I usually wear this? Will I wear it at the destination? Does it have a specific purpose? How many variations of a white tank top do I really need? I always end up throwing 1/3 of the clothes I thought I would need back in my drawers. This helps clear up space for other essentials, cut down on baggage, and keep the weight under 50 pounds.

7. Window seat for long flights, aisle seat for short ones.

The window seat gives you more room and a built in pillow. This helps on long flights that you may want to sleep on or just have a few extra inches of wiggle room. Aisle seat for shorter flights because its harder to fall asleep, which isn’t something you want to do on a short flight (messing up your sleep schedule sucks for jet lag).

8. Bring a book. Always.

Reading a book on a flight is an easy way to stay occupied and be engrossed in a wonderful and engaging story. This can be a paperback, kindle edition, or audiobook, but it really helps the time pass. Sometimes, reading on a plane is the first book I have read for pleasure in a while. Recently I read Crazy Rich Asians, Sharp Objects, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The first two I picked up in the airport and the last I have on audiobook.

These are my go to tips and tricks for flying. I am sure I could come up with twenty more given more time and space, but I don’t want to bore you with the minor details of my travel life. Good luck and safe travels!

Moving to a New Country

Here I am, sitting at the Oakland International Airport, waiting for my flight to London. Of course I am here a full two hours early so I have plenty of time to reflect on my move and maybe watch an episode of NCIS.

I couldn’t help but smile as I walked through the security line. I’ve never bought a one-way ticket before. It is a little exhilarating knowing I have no plans set in stone of when I will return to my home country. I wonder how long it will take for me to start referencing Cambridge as “home”.

I am sure moving to a new country will not be easy. There is a whole new culture I have to learn, different customs and practices, and a new language practically. I have to figure out a new monetary system, a new town, a new apartment, new classes. Everything I do from here on out is…new. And that is the most exciting part. I truly believe I was meant for travel. My soul is restless when it is resting.

Every person who knows that I am moving to England has asked me the inevitable question- Are you excited? I think what they are really asking is- Are you scared? I used to think I was terrified, about the unknown, starting over, knowing no one. But as the date drew closer and closer, I realized I’m not afraid at all. Am I stressed? Yes. Scared? No. I know in my heart of hearts I am meant for this adventure. I am meant to conquer this goal. I am nothing but hopeful of my new future.

When dropping me off at the airport, my brother said, “I’m sure you will do great.” and I started to respond with, “I hope so,” but I stopped, because I am not “hoping” anything. My future and my time at Cambridge is what I make of it. I don’t have to hope for a good time and an easy transition- I will make it so.

Moving Home After College?

Moving home after college? Don’t.

Kidding.

Sort of.

Here’s my take on moving home after college and what people don’t tell you about it:

1. The Honeymoon Phase

You are going to love being at home because of all the things you missed– your parents, your pets, that mom and pop donut shop down the street. This nostalgic driven love for your home will last approximately one week. Then you are hit with the fact that you may or may not know when you are moving out, but it is not soon enough.

2. Back in Time

All of sudden you go from no curfews, no rules, no supervision in college to asking your parents if you can borrow the car or them asking you who you are hanging out with. Telling your parents that you are about to go meet up with a stranger you met off Tinder for drinks who you will most likely never see again can be a bit awkward, depending on your relationship with your parents. So you lie, or you don’t. I still haven’t figured out which is the better option. And just like that, living at home sends you back five years to when you were a little high school girl with more rules than colored pens.

3. Your parents become your best friends

This one rocks. I honestly don’t know who is more excited for me to move out, me or my parents. As much as they love me, I’m sure spending every waking moment with me talking to them, wanting something from them, or interrupting them has gotten old. But at the same time, I have never been closer to my parents, which makes moving out that much harder.

4. Your pet also becomes your best friend.

Don’t get me wrong, I have real live friends, but they live thousands of miles away or are working a full time job in the city. Once you leave college have 24/7 friends becomes have 1 hour every month friends. This is why your pet becomes your best friend. They love you unconditionally, are always happy to see you, and can’t get rid of you no matter how many times they get up and move across the couch from you. Leaving my little pup in the fall is going to suck, too bad I can’t bring her to grad school in England but the rest of my family might hurt me if I tried.

5. You will be sad.

Maybe not all of the time, or right away, but it will hit you. Your friends are miles away, your life is on temporary hold, and your family members have lives of their own. Fast forward to me scheduling time to see my sister because her days were already booked with fun girl trips, boyfriend time, Bachelor in Paradise girls night, etc. One time I picked her up from a friends house and we got ice cream, it was awesome. Another time, she cut our girls night short because she was “tired”, which I found out later was code for “my boyfriend texted me and wants to go get ice cream so how do I get rid of Dana.”

6. You will grow, a lot.

Due to this loneliness that my puppy could cure only so much of, I grew even more independent than I already was. I became a morning person, mostly because Bailey wakes up at 6:30 and someone has to feed her. I read more than when I was in school. I got really tan (even my sister’s friends noticed something different about me). I became a Starbucks Gold Member (my addiction for chocolate croissants knows no bounds). I ate healthier and exercised more because there’s no excuse not to when all that you can think is “I’m bored” (which I thought a lot this summer). I became a blog reader because why not I have the time. And I actually began to accept a lot of parts about myself that I didn’t like very much. This summer I had the epiphany that I actually really like my small boobs, even though for the past decade I have been at war with them, that was liberating.

So, give yourself the space to grow and be happy and sad and stressed and confused. Be kind to yourself, it’s not every summer you go through one of the biggest transitions of your life. You are lucky to be home, surrounded by people who have to love and support you (hopefully). Use this time to truly assess who you are and where you want to be, then get going- life waits for no one.

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7 Tips for the GRE

The GRE is a standardized test that wrecked my summer in DC. Kidding, sort of.

When applying for grad school, the GRE is something you have to take if you want to attend a U.S. university. Sucks, but that’s the chops, so to make it suck less here is my guide to SLAYING the GRE!

IMG_26241. Start studying early.

This one might seem obvious, but how early should you start studying? I suggest about 3-4 months before your test date. This will give you ample time to make it through all the study material and subject matter and still have time for multiple reviews and practice tests leading up to the test. This timeline also allows you to only needing to devote about an hour or two each night to studying. This means you can study and have a full time job, or be a full time student. For me, it meant I could have a full time internship the summer before senior and still take the GRE before the first day of classes in the fall.

2. Your study materials don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

There are so many free online resources you can use! Personally, I bought two study books, one from the Princeton Review and one from Kaplan after I accidentally mailed the Princeton Review one to my home address instead of my D.C. address, as well as the Kaplan GRE vocabulary flashcards, which come with an app for your phone. In all it cost me under $50. Other than that, I used the free resources I found online. With just a quick Google search, you can find study schedules, flash cards, practice tests, and prep advice. I suggest trying a few different things and see what works for you. I was able to study my vocabulary on the Metro to and from work, so when I was at home I devoted my study time to the study books.

3. Track your progress

It is important to understand your strengths and weaknesses early, so you can prioritize your studying. Take a practice test before you start studying. Take it like you would the real exam, no notes, no phone, no computer, no calculator. This is your baseline. The GRE scoring guidelines should be in your practice book or you can find them online. After each section in my book, there was a mini practice test, which I scored. At the end of the Math part, there was another practice test, which I scored as well. I looked back to see if the questions I got wrong at the end of the Math section were part of the smaller sections I struggled with. I used these to note which sections needed more help than others and found other resources online to help me. I did this with the Reading and Writing portions too.

4. Take lots of practice tests.

The more you practice like it is the real test, the better you will do and the better you will understand what you need to work on. The practice tests are long, so make sure you block enough time out of your day to do the whole thing at once.

5. Understand what the essays want.

The two essays on the GRE are different than previous standardized tests. They are looking for more than a cookie cutter five paragraph essay, but they are not overly complex. The two different types require different writing skills. There are many free online resources that can help you and your study book should have practice essay questions and reviews.

6. Prepare for the week leading up to the test.

At this point, you should mostly be completing practice tests, reviewing vocab, and checking on a few key areas for review. Two days prior to your test should be your last study day. I do not suggest studying the day before or the day of the test. Give your brain and mind some rest. Eat well, load up on carbs like an athlete would and protein. Your brain needs fuel so it can remember all that you have learned and make it through the long test. The day before your test, try to relax, maybe have a movie night, or do yoga, something that calms you.

IMG_1668For the day of the test, you should have picked a time that will allow you ample time to get to your testing center and a time of day during which you work well. For me, it was late afternoon. This allowed me the morning and early afternoon to make sure I was well rested, well fed, and at the testing center with enough time before my test. In addition, I packed snacks and water.

7. Finally, make sure you are prepared for the test day of.

The testing center is required to take certain security measures, so make it easy on yourself. Dress accordingly, it can get cold in testing centers. Don’t bring too much extra stuff, just your snacks and water (left outside the testing room), and any materials you need in the testing room.

Now, breathe, relax. You know more than you could possibly regurgitate in a three hour test. You got this! Go kick the GRE’s butt.

The Road to Grad School

I took the path less traveled.

Actually, I am not sure about the statistics on that so maybe I didn’t. But, the path I did take led me to Cambridge University, and here’s how I did it.

I majored in Anthropology at the Ohio State University. Very exciting, great school, super awesome memories. But what was I going to do with my degree? Most people I talk to have absolutely no idea what Anthropology is. The closest most people come is, “Like Ross from friends!!”…no, nothing like Ross from friends. He is a Paleontologist who studies dinosaurs. Anthropologists study people, humankind, its history and its future. For me, I have always been fascinated by museums, especially natural history ones. So, I decided to pursue a career in the museum field, which means I have to go to grad school.

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The Road to Grad School:

1. Research Programs

In order to know which schools to apply to, you need to know what program you want to pursue. That’s the first step. Sit down and think about the career you want and then do some research on people in that career. Do they have higher degrees? What are their degrees in? Does that interest you?

2. Research Schools

Now that you know which program you want to pursue, you can begin looking for schools that have that program. There are different search engines you can use for this, but I started with a quick Google search. This led me down a rabbit hole of how many different schools offer anthropology grad degrees. I narrowed my search because there were specific schools I had in mind. I made a list of reach schools and safety schools, both domestic and abroad. For each school, I marked down deadlines, unique qualities, faculty I could work with, cost, and duration. I narrowed my list down to twelve schools. There is no right or wrong number of schools to apply to, it depends entirely upon you.

3. Take the GRE

For US schools, almost all will require GRE scores. For universities abroad, in my experience, none required GRE scores. This is something to take into account when researching schools and applying to schools, since the GRE is expensive. However, your GRE test scores are good for ten years, so if you think you will be doing a PhD or another master’s program after this one, it might be useful to take the GRE when you still have most of that information in your head. I have another post of prepping for and taking the GRE, check that out for more information.

4. Apply to Schools

Applying to grad school is b*tch.

First you will need recommendation letters from people who can speak to your ability to complete the coursework, such as a professor or research advisor. You will want to ask for these letters with ample time before the deadline, at least three weeks. Also, it is helpful to provide the referee with a word document outlining the list of the schools, their programs, the deadline, and where to send the letter.

Next, the actual application. There will be essays. Sometimes multiple for one application. For example, the Cambridge application has six short essays I had to provide. Definitely get a head start on the applications, like two to three months before they are due. You will have time to write, and rewrite, your essays, have them revised by a professor, and finalized well before the due date. You may also need samples of work. I used past class assignments and also wrote new samples for applications, it just depends on whether you think you already have something worthy or need something new. I would seek advice from a professor on your sample of work.

The applications can seem daunting, time-consuming, stressful, and, well, a lot. That’s because they are. But, with preparation and planning, you can nail them and be accepted to the school of your dreams! The final downside to applications, money. Each application will cost you at least an arm, if not also a leg. This is why I narrowed down my school list and applied to my top schools first. While I started with a list of twelve, I only ended up applying to four because one of my top choices got back to me in the beginning of November, so I didn’t need to apply to other school that I wasn’t in love with. If your applications have a rolling deadline, apply early for the schools that you LOVE and dream about going to. That way, if you hear back soon, you won’t need to submit other applications, most of which are due early January up to May.

5. Apply for Funding

This one is HUGE. I cannot stress this enough, research as many funding opportunities as you possibly can, and apply to ALL of them. I researched funding from every single organization and club I have ever been a part of. I researched local scholarships in my hometown. National scholarships from large corporations and charities. National and International fellowships, like the Fulbright and Rhodes. The funding process is stressful and long and daunting, but in the end it will pay off! Imagine having your entire course funded! That would be the dream. For me, I applied to everything under the sun, won a couple, and am still taking out big loans (not fun). Master’s funding is more limited than undergraduate and PhD funding, so apply for anything you can, even if you think its too competitive or you don’t quite fit the qualifications. The worst that can happen is you get rejected, but you don’t even have the opportunity to win anything if you don’t apply. So apply!

6. Making the Decision

By now, you have submitted your applications and have heard back from some or all of your schools. Make sure you note the deadline for accepting an offer so you don’t miss it. But also take your time in making your decision. By the end of my process, I had been accepted to Cambridge University, Oxford, Columbia, and the University of Sydney. Each of them had their pros and cons, and it took me months to finally choose (some of this time due to waiting to hear on funding). This decision is your’s. Not your parents’, not your professors’ decision. Your’s. You are the one who has to live in the town/city, read the material, work in that field. So do yourself a favor, and take your time.

I had always dreamed of going abroad for school, which knocked Columbia out (they also don’t offer postgraduate financial aid). The University of Sydney is where I applied for the Fulbright, which I didn’t win, so that was out. It came down to Oxford and Cambridge, how does one choose between the two? It took me four months to decide and be firm in my decision. I looked at the universities and what they offer, which, unhelpfully, are basically the same. So for me, it came down to the program, which one I wanted to be in more. The one at Oxford was tailored specifically to museums, whereas the one at Cambridge is a broad anthropology degree. I chose Cambridge for the flexibility the degree gives me in future decisions. And now, I am one month away from flying across the pond on a one way ticket to the rest of my life 🙂

This is my path, I hope you find, and follow, your’s.

 

Fashion for the Lazy Girl who has to Act Like an Adult

One of the hardest parts about working in the real world is realizing that my entire wardrobe is completely insufficient for my internship. Apparently, leggings and sweatshirts do not pass as business casual. Luckily for my lazy girl taste, my internship workplace is actually quite casual, which means no pant suits or pantyhose for me. I did have to do a little shopping though.

I am at desk for most of the day, but I also do a lot of walking on tours and visiting different collections departments. It is also hot and humid in D.C. during the summer, but can be cold in the collections areas. I needed a wardrobe that would be professional for my role, but also comfortable for commuting and hot days. I am also on a budget, so I needed to shop smart. I headed to Target, Kohl’s, and TJMaxx for a fashion make over. I went with sleeveless tops for the warm weather, some linen tops and some more professional fabric tops. That’s actually how I refer to them, I’m not even sure what fabric it really is. I also went with cropped pants to stay professional but again combat the heat, and also because my office is casual. I can even wear jeans! This internship just keeps getting better! For a girl who doesn’t know fashion and spends 5 minutes to pick out an outfit, having easy wardrobe choices was essential for me. A solid pant with a patterned top makes every outfit look professional and fashionable with trying too hard to make a statement. I also have a few dresses for when it is really hot, which are even easier to dress up. If you haven’t noticed by now, for me it is mostly practicality and ease for how I dress.

As for shoes, I learned the hard way that flats are not my friend. First day blisters that took two weeks to heal meant I could not wear flats to work for two weeks. Instead, I wore my Steve Madden slip ons. They are leather with a stitched pattern, making them fashionable but also professional enough to wear to work. They are comfortable and perfect for commuting. No blisters, no problem!

Having to wear business professional would be a nightmare every day. I still feel as if I am a twelve year old dressing up in her mom’s clothing when I wear anything close to business professional. Someday I will need learn how to style business professional for myself, but for now, I am happy with the business casual/casual work attire.IMG_0580