long-distance relationships.

Editor’s Note: This post was inspired by a Cosmopolitan article I read yesterday about a long-distance relationship. It resonated with me a lot, so I figured it was time to talk about mine.

If you’ve been following me for a few months (or you’ve spoken to me at all since October), you’ll know that my boyfriend Simon lives in England. Having met at a truly incredible Fall Out Boy show in London, we were obviously destined to be together. Clearly, some ominous omniscient being watching over us (read: Pete Wentz) wanted us to meet.

12366041_10207912280075073_76715821180008690_oThat said, we’ve now known each other for almost four months and officially been together for a little over two months, even though I have now been back in Philly for over a month (that is the most math I’ve done in over a year). I like to think that I’ve gained some wisdom on long-distance relationships (LDRs) now that I’m in one, so I thought I would shed some of that light on you. (Please note: I am not a professional. I just like talking about my boyfriend.)

Here is some advice and maybe some hope for those of you who are in or may one day be in an LDR:

#1: If you’re with the right person, long distance will not be that hard.

Okay, this is kind of a lie. Long distance is really, really difficult sometimes. That said, if you’re with the right person, it is manageable. I’m not sure what I expected of LDR-hood before I was thrown into it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it didn’t really feel that much different. Sure, I haven’t kissed my boyfriend since before Christmas, but our almost constant communication hasn’t dwindled at all, and being 3000 miles apart, we’ve kind of been forced to make the extra effort to become closer in other ways in order to continue progressing the way a normal, geographically-close couple would.

#2: Communication becomes EVEN MORE important.

Communication is 100% the most important part of any relationship. If you don’t talk about stuff, you’ll suppress, you’ll repress, and you’ll struggle to grow both as a couple and as individuals. In LDRs, this is even more crucial. Simon and I obviously can’t wait to see each other in person to handle a problem; we have to take care of things as soon as they happen. This is where technology comes in. Part of what makes the distance so manageable is the fact that things like Skype and FaceTime exist. I still get to hear his voice and see him outside of the hundred Snapchats we exchange every day on a regular basis. iMessage has also allowed us to text just as much as we did when we were on the same continent, even if it uses up all of my data (sorry mom). If you find yourself in an LDR and don’t have iMessage, I recommend the app Couple. You can text, send drawings, let your S/O know when you’re thinking of them, and even utilize a feature called Thumbkiss, where you can make your thumbs… well, kiss. (Editor’s note: I tried to explain this better. It did not work.)

There are so many different ways to communicate through technology that our ability to interact as a couple hasn’t really changed at all. We’ve just had to learn to make up for the things we can’t do with words. (It is possible that Simon and I have just gotten lucky with that as we are both writers, and expressing ourselves verbally is pretty easy. I’m pretty sure you can read any of my posts and know that I talk a lot.)

#3: Knowing when you’re going to see them again makes things way easier.

This isn’t really advice, or anything useful, so sorry. I understand that in many cases, LDRs are indefinite, and you might not know when you’ll be able to see your S/O again, but knowing that I’ll be seeing Simon again relatively soon (5 weeks!!!) is really comforting. That said, after his trip to Philly in March, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see him again. At this point, it’s looking like I won’t be able to make it back to the UK before Christmas, which is admittedly scary. Fortunately, we got that aforementioned communication thing down pat.

#4: You will get used to the time difference.

Simon and I only have a five-hour time difference, so I can’t really speak for the North America/Australia LDRs, but being in different time zones isn’t as bad as either of us thought it would be. Five hours isn’t even that much time. There have been times when Simon has had to wake up really early and I hadn’t even gone to sleep yet, but that’s more of a reflection of my absolutely horrendous internal clock than anything. He always says good morning first, and I always say good night last. It really isn’t any different than just having an S/O with a much better sleep schedule than you.

#5: If you really have to force it, it might not be worth it.

This might be a bit redundant, and also might be a bit of a crappy thing to say, but it’s true. LDRs take an insane amount of work, like all relationships do, but it should not feel like work. I never feel obligated to do something or say something for the sake of my relationship. I don’t really want to compare it to a job, but it really is just like having your dream job. You have to work, yes, but you should love doing it. If you have to remind yourself to text your S/O, something ain’t right.

There will be times in any relationship where you might have to compromise, but it should never feel like a sacrifice. The only thing Simon and I have sacrificed for the sake of our relationship is sleep just so we could Skype for a few more minutes. We have never felt like we’re losing anything or giving something up. It isn’t losing five minutes of sleep, it’s gaining five minutes of a good conversation.

~~~

Ah, a super long post about a super long-distance relationship. How appropriate.

BONUS: built-in drinking game a la You Deserve A Drink by Mamrie Hart: re-read this post and drink every time I repeat myself, say something mushy, or say “Simon.” If you get hurt, I’m sorry and please don’t sue me.

35 days!

xx Gabi (+ Simon)

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paying tuition: now or later?

I have a question for you guys.

Today in my state and local politics class, we discussed the possibility of state governments one day dropping the concept of upfront tuition completely, so that students wouldn’t have to pay anything while in school, but pay 5% of their annual income after graduation every year until their higher education is paid off.

A lot of my class immediately was like “screw that, I don’t want to give up my hard-earned money,” but unless you’re so lucky as to not have taken out ANY student loans, you’ll have quite a bit of student debt to pay off in your adult life anyway, so why not?

I think this idea sounds pretty good in theory, because not having to pay tuition while still in school would make everything infinitely easier, and depending on whether or not this method would require you to pay interest, 5% a year could actually end up being less than what one would pay in order to get out of debt from the tens of thousands of loans they took out as a student.

I’m curious to know what people think about this. Would you rather borrow money to pay upfront and spend the rest of your life paying it off, or just postpone payment until you have the means to pay without taking out loans?

Talk to me, college kids.

xx Gabi

upperclassman·ism.

*Author’s note: this is a bit of a ramble-y/minimally edited post. I apologize if you were expecting my usual flawlessly polished writing. Be patient, loyal subjects.

This is my second semester as a junior in college, but since I spent last semester in London, this is my first semester as a junior on my actual campus. I didn’t expect that to really mean anything, but it actually feels quite a bit different.

I’m still finishing up a handful of general education courses (Gen Eds) that my university requires every student to take in order to graduate. Usually, people knock them all out in their first two years because they either haven’t declared a major program yet, or they’re not sure if they want to stay in the field they’re in. Gen Ed courses are great filler classes for kids who are still weighing their options.

That said, I got kind of lucky. I’m not 100% that I want to be in journalism, but it has been my major since my first day of college and I haven’t changed it once. I declared a minor in public relations last summer and I’m honestly feeling much more confident about that field than that of my major, but because I’ve been in journalism for almost three (!) years, my first few semesters consisted of a good balance between Gen Eds and major classes. Because of that, I’m a junior and still finishing some of the Gen Eds that my friends finished last year.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, I am now finding myself in an interesting position: I am one of the oldest people in the classroom in any given in Gen Ed. I have never been the oldest person. As a June baby, I didn’t even turn 18 until the day I graduated high school. But today, in my State and Local Politics course, the professor had us go around the room and introduce ourselves in a few words (Sidebar: Why does everyone hate doing this? I love this. I love talking about myself. I’m interesting as hell. Let me talk about myself. All day. Please.) Many of us had similar majors: journalism, political science, etc., but there were at most only two or three other juniors in the room. It suddenly hit me that I was in a room full of freshmen and sophomores.

Why did I feel so weird about that? Maybe it just hadn’t occurred to me that I was actually an upperclassman until that moment. Maybe I’m in denial about it. Maybe (probably) I’m actually kind of excited about it. I’m more than halfway through college. I know things. Do I get to share my collegiate wisdom with these kids now? Do I have authority over these tiny children? Do I have upperclassmen privilege like the bullies in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide? (8TH GRADE PRIVILEGE, NERD.)

The truth of the matter is that I’m not a baby owl anymore. I’m finally one of the big kids, and I don’t know if I’ve ever actually been here before. You’re only ever in class with people in the same year as you for all of primary and secondary education, but every student in a college classroom is at a different point in their pursuit of higher education. It feels good finally being on the higher end of higher ed.

xx Gabi

life update/ch-ch-changes.

Well guys, I’m home. Back in good ol’ filthy Philly. It feels nice, being back with my best friends, and more importantly, my bed, which you’ll be happy to hear has never been more comfortable.

Getting readjusted was a little difficult. I live alone now, and with my mom not telling me what to do, I didn’t fully unpack my suitcases for almost a week, because I almost didn’t want to come to terms with the fact that I was home. London is now one of my favorite cities, and saying goodbye to it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

That said, it wasn’t just London I had to say goodbye to. Those of you who know me personally will know that I actually met someone at that Fall Out Boy show back in October that I wouldn’t shut up about, and that someone is now my incredible boyfriend. Unfortunately, he had to stay in England, because immigration or whatever, and I am now finding myself in a long-distance relationship for the first time. Fun fact: long-distance sucks.

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Fortunately, however, I am pleasantly surprised by how… easy it’s been. Don’t get me wrong, I miss Simon like hell and I want to be with him more than I could even begin to explain, but technology has advanced so much that it has been virtually effortless to communicate with him. We still get to text all day thanks to the beauty of iMessage, I still get to see his face 700 times a day via Snapchat and hear his voice whenever we Skype (which is almost every day), and it almost feels like nothing has really changed. Sure, I’m 3000 miles away and there’s a five-hour time difference, but I slept until the middle of the afternoon regularly in London anyway. No lost time!

Now that 2015 is quickly coming to an end, I’m finding myself looking back on where I was this time last year, and I’m realizing just how much I’ve changed since then. I had a different boyfriend, different friends, and most importantly, a very different relationship with myself. Now I’m only a little bit older, but I’m a hell of a lot smarter, and I like myself maybe more than I ever have. I don’t know if that’s just because I’m no longer a teenager and I just… don’t hate everything anymore, or if I’m finally surrounded by people that actually bring me higher and push me to be better, but whatever the reason, 2015 was definitely a year of growth and personal development for me.

I hope you all had a great year and if you didn’t, I hope 2016 makes up for it.

Happy New Year!

xx Gabi

study abroad entrance essay

Hey guys,

With finals creeping up on me, I’m feeling slightly braindead and not too motivated to be my usual witty self this week.

Something I do when I’m feeling this way is go back and read old papers I’ve written for school, and I came across the essay I wrote when I was applying to study in London. As I am getting ready to go back to Philly in about two weeks, I thought I could do a little throwback (#ManyMoonsAgoMonday?) and share it with you. Maybe next week I’ll give you guys a conclusive update, to reflect on my time here and see if I really did what I came here to do. Enjoy!

As a child, I was very fortunate to have many opportunities to travel. Thanks to my perpetually adventurous parents, I have been lucky enough to see twelve countries in the twenty years I have been on this planet. From getting to travel to Moscow and Kiev at twelve years old to see where my parents grew up, to knowing Paris like the back of a good friend’s hand, I think I can safely say that I am more comfortable on an airplane than most.

When I was thirteen, I went on a two-week expedition across parts of Western Europe with the student ambassador program People to People. Spending two days at a time in each city, we toured France and Italy, and spent our last 48 hours in London. While those 48 hours are the only hours I have ever spent there, London became one of my favorite cities in a matter of minutes. A self-professed anglophile, I am practically jumping out of my skin to further indulge in British culture.

Being able to travel so much as a kid helped shape me into the person I am today. Getting to see how people live in places other than where I live has expanded my view of the world and diversified my way of thinking. I gained valuable knowledge through those experiences, and I believe that that has benefited my academic writing. I chose to study journalism because writing is a true passion of mine, and I know that if I did not have a more culturally diverse outlook on things, it might not be. I am hoping that this opportunity to study while suffusing myself into another culture will strengthen that even further, and allow me to analyze the world from a new perspective.

Going to study in London at this point in my life is crucial to me. I’ve looked forward to this experience for as long as I can remember. This trip is a huge step in my academic career and I know that it could make or break my future as a journalist.

I am not entirely sure where this saying originated, but it is something I am determined to follow while in London: “be a traveler, not a tourist.” Tourism only pokes at the surface of travel. You can see Big Ben, eat fish and chips, and take a “selfie” in front of Buckingham Palace. Genuine travel, on the other hand, goes past all of that. You can get lost in the London Underground, eat your weight in Indian food, and take a “selfie” with some nice strangers in a pub. When I go to London, I do not want to treat it like a vacation. I want to treat London like I just moved there for a new job and I have to figure out the city on my own before I start work on Monday.

xx Gabi

“society” vs. society

In one of my classes last week, we took an audio tour of Brick Lane, followed by a visit to the National Portrait Gallery. I was initially confused as to why my professor chose to take us to these polar-opposite places in the same class, but then it became abundantly clear to me: the National Portrait Gallery is reflective of “society,” but Brick Lane is reflective of real society. Let me explain.

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Inside the National Portrait Gallery (source: Wikipedia)
If you haven’t been to the National Portrait Gallery, you should go. However, you really don’t have to, because I can tell you what you’ll see there: white people. Good ol’ rich white people. Nothing else. Royals, politicians, the occasional actor (honorable mention to my girl Fiona Shaw), and other WASPs of the sort. I may seem slightly agitated by this, but on the surface, there’s really nothing wrong with displaying works of fine art.

That said, please note that I said “on the surface.”

Museums are great. You get to see pretty things and pretty people and feel cultured for a few minutes, but they also have a responsibility to society. The Portrait Gallery has the word “National” in front of it for a reason. The collection is funded by taxpayers, so the gallery is meant to serve a purpose to the people. How can you possibly call something the “National” Portrait Gallery if it isn’t fully reflective of the entire nation? If we’re making people pay for something, we should probably make sure that it doesn’t completely alienate their culture.

The United Kingdom has the third largest Indian population after India and the United States. There are over four million Asian individuals (of which about 1.5 million are Indian), almost two million black individuals, and over one million mixed. That makes up about 13% of the British population unaccounted for by the National Portrait Gallery. Yes, the UK is 87% white people, but just because one kid is bigger than the other, it doesn’t mean that they are automatically more important. That chocolate chip cookie is fair game. (Source) (That source is not about the cookie.)

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Shoreditch Street Art
Brick Lane, while more diverse, made me just as mad as the National Portrait Gallery. Located in Shoreditch, Brick Lane is quickly becoming one of the most aggressively gentrified parts of central London. Still home to a plethora of Bangladeshi and Jewish storefronts, very few Bangladeshi and Jewish immigrants can actually afford to live there. With every new piece of beautiful street art and every new rad little hipster bar, property values skyrocket. Out of curiosity, I looked up apartments (flats, whatever) for rent around Brick Lane. The first thing I saw was a two-bedroom apartment in Shoreditch set a truly outrageous £750 per week.

Part of the reason that the Brick Lane gentrification debacle gets to me so much is because it hits close to home. For those of you who also go to Temple, you’ll probably know that the university is incredibly guilty of contributing to the rapid gentrification of North Philadelphia.

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The Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA (source: NFL.com)
With rumors (true-mors) of a new football stadium in the works on campus, Temple will likely be pushing hundreds of North Philly natives out of their homes, due to the inflation of property values and the drastic changes that will almost definitely come with the Linc’s North Philly twinny.

I rarely do this, but I’m up for a spirited debate. What do you think about the National Portrait Gallery’s representation (or lack thereof) of British minorities? The gentrification of Brick Lane? Talk to me!

xx Gabi

Scandinavia to Mesopotamia (with a few stops).

I’ve surely mentioned my roommate Pat a few times by now. For some
background, she is as small as she is vicious, she will do your dishes if you pay her in cupcakes, and she is one of the most driven journalists I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, let alone sleeping next to.

One of Pat’s many talents is hunting down obscure and awesome stuff to do in the city. On Saturday, we fought the insane winds and sudden wake of winter, traveling out to Canada Water in Rotherhithe (a small

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Pat, Scandi Market, 21 Nov. 2015

residential area of Southeast London) in search of a Scandinavian Christmas market stationed outside of a Finnish church. What we found was a utopia of Norwegian food, Swedish candy, and a rock choir serenading us with Queen’s greatest hits. The highlight of the festival was possibly the abundance of puns (a-pun-dance?) strewn throughout, a

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Fine & Scandi, 21 Nov. 2015

stand labeled “Sweet-ish candy” and a food truck called “Fine & Scandi” being my personal favorites. We indulged in Norwegian hot dogs (albeit on explicitly “American” buns), ate our fair share of Swedish candy, and pushed through the crowd of beautiful blonde Vikings drunk on spiked hot chocolate just to find ourselves in hipster heaven, a vintage shop, with the most expensive item of clothing still costing less than £10.

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Do I smell that bad?

From there, we tubed back into Central London and made our way over to the British Museum, where my mature adult half was intrigued and amazed by all the ancient artifacts, and my less mature inner child wrote some totally objectively hilarious Snapchat captions to go along with some of the more amusing pieces.

I find it interesting and kind of ironic that the British Museum had such a huge collection of non-British artifacts. The collections we had time to see stretched from Mesopotamia and Egypt to Greece and Italy, and only after about an hour did we encounter any British artifacts. Upon telling a native Brit of my plans for the day, they responded with, “oh cool, enjoy the British Museum, a.k.a the things we stole when we could get away with it.”

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British Museum, 21 Nov. 2015

After the museum, we tracked down a little Mexican restaurant called Benito’s Hat for some delicious burritos and all the guac our bodies could handle, and then we strolled over to Regent Street. Starbucks’ in hand, we watched the intricate Christmas lights overhead change, with the suspended clock gears projecting beautiful colors and designs. We made our way through Piccadilly Circus, spent way too long in the makeup section of Boots, and headed home.

The fact that I was frozen down to my bones for the remainder of the evening aside, I was so happy to have experienced such a culturally diverse day. We started in Scandinavia, made our way through Mesopotamia, stopped in Egypt, stopped in Greece, had dinner in Mexico, and then ended right back in England, taking in the crisp London air and pretty Christmas lights. It can be hard to travel. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and can be scary. That said, it can be surprisingly easy to experience other cultures without leaving your city. You just have to know where to look. Or, alternatively, have a Pat to do it for you.

xx Gabi

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

Okay, okay, I need to freak out for a few minutes because I experienced one of the coolest things ever yesterday, so bear with me.

For those of you who know me like, at all, you’ll know that I am a die-hard fan of the Harry Potter franchise. Since I was still in my single-digit years, I have bled Hogwarts colors (possibly harder than Temple colors, even being the proud Owl I am), read every book multiple times, and seen every film… probably more times than is actually healthy. I quote Harry Potter regularly — no shame.

Riddikulus!
Riddikulus!
The tombstone of Tom Riddle's father.
The tombstone of Tom Riddle’s father.

Anyway, yesterday I was given the opportunity to do the official Warner Bros. Harry Potter studio tour outside of London. It was (#NoHyperbole) one of the best days of my life. Full of the original sets, props, and costumes from over ten years of film compiled in to one giant, beautiful museum, this was more than an exhibit. It was interactive, emotional, and revealed answers to so many questions I’ve had about the series for more than half of my life.

The Creatures department
The Creatures department

One thing that blew my mind was the universal proliferation of the franchise. I knew how big Harry Potter was, but it wasn’t until I heard people speaking French, Japanese, Russian, and at least five other languages during this tour that I realized just how big. These books and films have reached every corner of the world, and people travel thousands of miles to learn about the history and making of it because of how much of an impact it has had on their lives.

Yes, I did cry when I saw this.
Yes, I did cry when I saw this.

To learn a bit more about just how big J.K. Rowling’s magical impact on the world has been, check out this Storify piece I made last year about the series.

mischief managed. nox.

xx Gabi

fall break 2015.

I’ve been home for over a week, and have tried at least once every day to sit down and write about my fall break experience. I realized after about eight attempts that I had no words to accurately explain it nor do it any justice.

On the subject of things that will not do my fall break experience any justice, I put together a small video/slideshow of some of the beautiful things I saw and did instead. I learned a lot about myself and my limits, ate delicious things, slept on multiple airport floors, and fell in love with a few new places. Enjoy!

xx Gabi