concrete jungle.

the following is a letter I wrote earlier this year when I was looking for internships in New York. I stumbled across it in my Google Docs and thought it would be cool to share with you guys. enjoy!


JANUARY 2016

I can’t lie to you. New York has intimidated me for a long time. It’s uncharted territory, like Mars, or Australia, and I have only in the past couple of weeks made any attempt to actually rectify that, thanks to my neo-New Yorker mom. She made the move from Philadelphia to Hell’s Kitchen over the summer, and while I spent my fall semester in London, she sprouted wings and flourished there. Seeing my mother so in love with New York, and knowing that mother knows best, I figured I would give la Grande Pomme a fair chance. As expected, as she is right about everything else, my mother was right about New York.

I am constantly surprised by how quickly we as humans can adjust to new environments. The few trips I’ve taken to Manhattan recently have not been enough to truly decide whether or not I can blossom there, but I am feeling more and more confident about it with every passing day. I took the New York subway once, and by the second trip, I knew where I was going. With each passing moment, I can see myself living and working in New York more and more. Almost every time I speak to someone in my field, I am told that I should consider looking for internships and future jobs in New York if I really want to make an impact in the media, and I am starting to agree with that.

Until I left Philadelphia, I never wanted to leave Philadelphia. After spending four months studying in London, I am realizing that while I love Philadelphia, and while it will always be my home, I am pigeon-holing myself by expecting to stay there while pursuing my career (whatever that may be). How can I possibly grow in a city I already know like the back of my hand? London is just as crowded, big and intimidating as New York, and I still fell pathetically in love with it in a matter of days, giving tiny Philly a run for its money. If I can handle a massive metropolitan city like that in Europe, I know I can handle New York too.

I am a third-year journalism and public relations student at Temple University. I am 20 years old. If you ask me where I see myself in five years, I don’t actually know what I would say. I could end up doing investigative reporting for HuffPo in New York or doing PR for Taylor Herring in London. I could end up staying in Philly and writing for the Inquirer or find myself somewhere totally different. The possibilities are endless. I have no idea where I am going, and I’m okay with that. All I know is that I have to consider any and all of my options.

Philly has had me for 20 years, and London got me for a few months, but now I’m thinking it’s time to give New York a shot. There are aspects of both my hometown and Londontown in Up and Downtown, and with every comparison and connection I make, ten new things make their way onto my Pro-New York list. Every time I think about my potential career path(s), I am more and more drawn to the idea of thriving in Manhattan, and I intend to make it happen. New York is big and intimidating, but so is my future, and I am ready for it.


xx Gabi

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brock turner + privilege. (TW: rape)

I don’t usually talk about incredibly serious issues on this blog, but something has happened that I find myself so insanely angry about that I cannot ignore it.

WARNING: I curse a bit in this post. It’s the kind of topic that I can’t really discuss without cursing. You’ll have to forgive me.

If you don’t live in the states (or read the news, which you should), you may have not heard about the human scum that is Mr. Brock Turner, a 20-year-old student at Stanford University that raped a heavily intoxicated woman passed out behind a dumpster early last year. A few days ago, it was announced that Turner is only being sentenced to SIX MONTHS in jail for what he did. Yeah, I said months. Not years, not decades, not centuries, but months.

In a fit of rage, I was tweeting about this walking garbage can, admittedly in a pretty aggressive manner, and my good friend, George, in his “I ❤ the US government” shirt, was all “hey, criminals have rights too!” Yes, George, I know. Criminals have rights. That said, rapists don’t even fall into what qualifies as “criminal” to me, they jump straight down to “monster” in my head.

Yes, George, Turner has rights. He had a right to an attorney, a trial, the whole shebang. But it is so hard to think about how this evil person still has basic human rights when he took away someone else’s. He single-handedly ruined a girl’s life, and now, on top of living with the trauma he caused her, she also has to live with the fact that he was barely disciplined for it. He undressed and raped an unconscious woman, and all he’s getting is six months? Really? How do you think that makes her feel? I’m guessing pretty f**king angry, and scared.

Today, Turner’s super charming dad released a statement that basically screamed (though I’m paraphrasing), “Hey! I’m a rape apologist. You shouldn’t have punished my son for doing something illegal. He’s a rich white boy, I think you confused him for somebody else.”

Additionally, Mr. Dan Turner wrote, and I’m quoting directly now, “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

Are you… like, are you serious? You’re joking, right? Because he only violated another human being for 20 minutes, he doesn’t deserve to be punished? Six months is NOTHING. It’s a slap on the wrist. Brock Turner deserves years and years of jail time and he isn’t even getting a full year. That’s a goddamn blessing.

How long it takes to break a law or hurt another person has nothing to do with how long the punishment should be. It takes less than 10 seconds to shoot someone and kill them. What excuse would you pull out of your ass then, dad? Would you still write about how great of a cook your precious son is and again not bother to say a single word about the victim in your entire statement? Hmm?

Of course, all of this begs the question of whether or not Papa Turner even considers rape a real crime. Based on his unapologetic response, all signs are pointing to “unlikely” and “please try again later.”

Bringing up something as trivial as the amount of time his perfect angel son spent defiling this woman is nothing but a weak attempt to invalidate the horrendous nature of what he did. It’s irrelevant. Breaking it down to “oh well it wasn’t for that long” just kind of shows that this man clearly sees women as sexual objects. It means that Mr. Turner doesn’t really see anything wrong with what his son did. It means that Brock Turner just decided to take advantage of a person physically unable to consent purely under the logic that she was unconscious, it would be quick, and that she wouldn’t feel it anyway. It means that Judge Aaron Persky took more pity on the boy who lost his spot on the swim team than the girl who had her boundaries shattered and her mental health destroyed for the sake of that boy getting his tiny, wrinkled dick wet.

I have no sympathy for rapists. Criminals, in some cases, yes. But rapists are more than criminals. They are monsters, and so are the people that let them get away with it.

Brock Turner, I hope that what you did eats at you every goddamn day for the rest of your life. I hope you feel the trauma that you caused an innocent woman consume your sanity every second until there’s none left. I hope it destroys you.

I confess, I messed up.

~droppin’ I’m sorry like you’re still around~

Welp, it happened again. I blinked, and almost two months had passed since my last blog post. I confess, I messed up, but I come bearing a really good excuse (and Fall Out Boy lyrics). Indulge me, if you will.

I’ll be straight with you: this has been one of the hardest semesters I’ve ever been through. I’m nearing the end of my junior year, so I’m officially getting down to the nittiest of the grittiest of what the journalism and public relations departments at Temple have to offer. I’ve been dealing with papers, what feels like at least one exam every single week, presentations, and unfortunately, less-than-cooperative professors.

Coming back from our unseasonable and strangely early spring break in the beginning of March, it all seemed to hit me at once, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take a bit of a toll. All of this stressful schoolwork, piled on with the fact that I currently have $6 in my bank account and a boyfriend 3600 miles away, overwhelmed the hell out of me, and made for an admittedly unproductive and unhappy Gabi. For weeks, all I’ve wanted to do is watch Netflix and sleep. Well, for YEARS, all I’ve wanted to do is watch Netflix and sleep, but I digress. I’m f**king tired. That said, my motivation to write suffered some serious damage. I have like, four half-written posts sitting in my drafts, none of which I’ve had any inspiration to complete.

On that note, I’m sick of feeling so drained every day. With less than three weeks of the semester left, I decided to force myself to get back into the swing of things just by simply catching up with you. I know writing always makes me feel like I’ve been productive (even if I should be directing my productivity elsewhere). At the end of this semester, however, I have less than a week off before I am thrown right back in… to my CAPSTONE.

To all my Temple journalism kids, you understand why this is a big deal. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the journalism capstone run by the ever-awesome George Miller, has been known to ruin lives. Fieldwork-heavy and writing intensive, this course is not for the faint of heart. Needless to say, I am super excited. No really, I am. George was the first professor I met as an anxiety-ridden freshman, and he made college just a tiny bit more less terrifying. Now, as an anxiety-ridden junior, I’m genuinely looking forward to working with him again, now that I have some idea of what I’m doing (ha).

As I am taking the capstone on its own, rather than with a full semester of classes, I definitely plan to post more regularly. Like I mentioned before, I am currently working on a few different posts that I hope to finish at least by the end of this semester, so stay tuned!

xx Gabi

*lyrics in title/intro from “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me'” by Fall Out Boy

sad sacks + panic attacks.

I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes, things happen, and it bears repeating: I have anxiety. Not like, “oh no, I’m worried about failing this test I didn’t study for” or “I’m nervous about participating in this social event” anxiety, but more like, “I physically cannot retain any of this information to save my life” *bursts into tears* or “I’m legitimately terrified to speak to other humans” *bursts into tears* anxiety.

I’m bringing this up today because I just took an exam, and I had a panic attack in the middle of it. I studied for it, and even though I struggled to memorize a few dates and definitions, I felt decently prepared, but for some reason, my brain just did not want to make this easy for me. I didn’t expect it to be easy-easy. I knew it would be a difficult exam, but “difficult” quickly becomes an understatement when you add a heaping spoonful of involuntary mental illness to the mix. All anxiety sucks, but when I’m in the middle of a panic attack, I tend to draw a lot of blanks, which is basically the worst thing that can happen mid-midterm. My biggest concern was forgetting all the material I’d studied, and because life is totally hilarious and not at all annoyingly ironic, I had a panic attack that made me completely forget all the material I’d studied.

I don’t know if the same goes for everyone with anxiety, but for me, once I’m having a panic attack, it takes an insane amount of effort to stop having a panic attack. I had 45 minutes for this exam. 5 minutes and 2 questions in, it hit me, and I spent the remaining 40 minutes and 8 questions trying to fight through it. I was able to answer all but one question, but whether or not any of my responses were comprehensible or even legible, I couldn’t really tell you. At that point, what I wanted more than anything else was to burst into tears and run out of that classroom like I was being chased by a serial killer.

It sucks, having this uncontrollable internalized stress monster eat at your life every day. I can go a whole week without a panic attack, but it takes only one to ruin the following week. It’s like a stomach virus. It might only last a day or so, but you can still tell that your body needs a solid three days to recover afterwards. It takes a toll. On your mood, your energy, your motivation… the only thing it doesn’t really take a toll on for me is the desire to eat crappy food and take a four-hour nap in the middle of the day.

So, here I am, fresh out of a panic attack and completely drained. This was not a plea for pity, but a plea for understanding. To those of you who do not suffer from anxiety, please consider yourself one of the lucky ones, because you truly are the lucky ones. To those of you who know where I’m coming from, know that you are definitely not alone, and that I sympathize with you endlessly.

On that note, I think I’m going to go take a nap.

xx Gabi

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

Judaism, Sikhism, + Agnosticism

Religion has never been a very big part of my life. Yes, I was raised (loosely) Jewish, I spent four years in Hebrew school, and I was Bat Mitzvah-ed. I have every intention on taking my Birthright trip after I graduate, and I love spending Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah with latkes my family. I identify as Jewish by blood, but I don’t really know if I’m religious enough to identify as Jewish by faith. I don’t know if I truly believe that there’s a big omniscient being watching over us, or if that lie I told about doing my homework when I was 12 will come back to bite me in the ass when it’s my time to go. Part of me wants to cringe a little when people tell me that something horrible happening is “all in God’s plan,” and it can be really difficult to believe in someone that’s supposed to be all-powerful and loving when they’ve let innocent people die and let Donald Trump get this far in the presidential race.

Adonai aside, I understand and love being Jewish. We’ve been around forever. We’re certainly not Hinduism, but we’re pretty ancient. I may not practice Judaism very, for lack of a better word, religiously, but never in my life would I want to erase that part of my identity. Erasing my Joots (Jew roots) would erase my people’s history and culture, and we’ve done some pretty cool shit (סלח לי). Name one time you had a candle last you eight whole days. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Fortunately, last week I was given the opportunity to do some on-site religious research and visit a Sikh Gurdwara in Southall with my classmates:

I can’t really say that my stance on religion has changed much. I may have a better understanding of Sikhism, by which I mean, I now know what Sikhism is, but nothing life-changing clicked in my head. However, I will say that as a non-practicing outsider, Sikhism seems pretty great. Sikhism is one of the youngest religions in existence, only founded a few hundred years ago, and it is accepting of every religion. Gurdwaras are Sikh places of worship, but you don’t have to practice Sikhism to go there. They have “langar,” which is essentially free food for anyone who wants it, and their whole shtick (that was me being Jewish) is that they will accept (and feed) anyone. While I suppose it isn’t wildly uncommon for a religion to be accepting, it isn’t wildly common. I don’t know everything about the faith, or their beliefs on homosexuality and abortion, but hearing the word “acceptance” in a religious building made me feel oddly reassured that these people knew what they were talking about.

I think that if I really learned anything from this experience, it was that I need to learn more about religion. Maybe I’m just a little lazy, or maybe I’m just really ignorant, but my views on religion really don’t go past the views I’ve picked and chosen and tailored out of the minds of the people around me. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll wake up and decide to become a born-again Jew, dedicating myself to my synagogue (which, ironically, was once a church). For now, I’m just Jewish by blood, and agnostic by choice.*

*Subject to change.

xx Gabi

“Honestly, I think I found my people. I was raised in a church, where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell. If I was good, I’d go to heaven. And if I’d ask Jesus, he’d forgive me, and that was that. And here y’all saying ain’t no hell, ain’t… sure about heaven, and if you do something wrong, you got to figure it out yourself. And as far as God’s concerned, it’s your job to keep asking questions and to keep learning and to keep arguing. It’s like a verb. It’s like… you do God. And that’s a lot of work. But I think I’m in, at least as far as I can see it.” -Black Cindy on converting to Judaism, Orange is the New Black

the things you never think about.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m pretty neurotic. I made a tentative categorized packing list for this trip two months before I left Philly, before I even had suitcases. I thought I had considered everything and couldn’t have possibly left a single thing out, but nothing could have prepared me to face the hard truth about myself: I need a lot of stuff. (Disclaimer: when I say “need,” I mean “would benefit from.” Not to be confused with “would actually die without.” I’m just spoiled and dependent on materialistic things, not fighting for survival.)

It didn’t really occur to me until a few days ago just how many small things I was used to having and no longer had.

Last week, after a quick stop at Primark, and with a heavy sense of buyer’s remorse weighing on my shoulders, I was the proud owner of a new blanket, a new sweater, and new shoes. Only when I got home did I realize that I had no scissors to cut the impossible-to-rip tags off. I tackled them with a dull knife, yes, but at risk of damaging my pretty things (and my pretty self, she adds, under her breath), I didn’t get very far. Fortunately, after mass-texting about twenty people, my next-door neighbor-turned-friend became my friend-turned-knight in shining pink hair and lent me her scissors (thanks Sam). It really wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but at least I don’t have an itchy tag on my blanket poking me in the feet at night. I am lucky enough to be here with thirty people that I interact with almost daily, and it has helped a lot in those times of shallow, materialistic “need.”

With that in mind, I can’t help but consider the fact that I would be totally helpless if I was here on my own. I’d either have to grow as a person and learn to live without the random little things that I hadn’t thought to pack, or worse, be forced to buy absolutely everything new and not be able to close my suitcases for the flight home without abandoning everything I arrived with. I’m already sad thinking about the fact that my brand new memory foam pillow and shiny new toaster will have no place in my luggage and will likely be left here as a nice surprise for the next resident of the right bed in room 68, but c’est la vie, or whatever.

For my readers/future travelers, here is a list of a few things (but definitely not all things) that you should pack, but will never think to pack, and will kick yourself for not packing when you realize you need them at 3 AM:

-Scissors: To cut that buyer’s remorse in half!

-Meds, and lots of them: Fortunately, this is something I did actually pack. Having a nurse for a mom comes in handy, as bringing a box of Advil Cold to a country where Advil Cold does not exist seemed obvious. (Side note: expect to get sick if you’re going to be in another country for more than a week or two. that Advil Cold has come and gone in less than a month.)

-Office supplies: This one is mostly for students. It can be argued that waiting until you arrive in the country and purchasing these supplies is a better option, but throwing a notebook and a few pens, highlighters, etc. in your bag just to get you started can’t hurt. (I partially do this because I live for being that kid that not only has 15 pens and highlighters with her but is also totally willing to lend them to classmates. It’s how I learned to turn being a nerd into a surefire way to make friends in high school.)

-An open mind: Before you groan, bear with me. An open mind is so important for traveling, especially for the eternally anxious like myself. Yes, an open mind for seeing new places and trying new cuisines is important, but for those of us who are staying somewhere for an extended period of time, an open mind in the grocery store is important too. You are not going to eat out every day. An English grocery store is nothing like an American one, so I’ve had to try new things solely because I wouldn’t eat otherwise. You also have to keep an open mind about the people around you. This is my first experience living with a roommate, so I’ve had to be extra considerate of my roommate. My room was essentially cut in half and the number of people that sleep in it was doubled, so being mindful of your surroundings and your peers is crucial. Getting in to an open mindset prior to your arrival in a new place will help prepare you for the inevitable culture shock you will experience, and might make things a little bit easier. The Sleep Foundation even suggests changing the time on your phone to the zone that you’re traveling to ahead of time, so you can subconsciously start adjusting to the difference.

The longer I live in London, the more I realize that there are a thousand things I hadn’t considered, but now all I can think about is what hasn’t hit me yet.

xx Gabi

leaving home/getting settled/the first two weeks.

My only justification for the lack in posts over the last two months is that I wasn’t in London yet and had nothing to say about it.

Now, I’ve been here for two weeks, and I’ve just been lazy, so let’s have a chat.

Leaving Philly was hard. Not really leaving Philly, but leaving my mom and my friends. I somehow managed to not be a total wreck saying my goodbyes that day, but the few minutes right after each goodbye were some of the hardest. I’m not going to say I handled it well, because I’m really not sure hyperventilation is a good thing, but I got through the day without getting dehydrated from crying too much like I thought I would, just because a not-much-younger version of myself would’ve. #CharacterDevelopment?

If you want the truth, my first day here was… rough. I don’t know if it was the delusion and exhaustion from a transatlantic redeye flight that I didn’t/couldn’t sleep on or the genuine fear of being in a different country without my parents or anyone I really knew, but my first 24 hours were just straight-up bad. Surprise, surprise, Gabi can’t handle stress. It actually wasn’t until I unpacked all of my stuff (in a record-breaking 15 minutes) that I started to relax a little. I think seeing that my suitcases were about the size of my entire room scared me and made me think I would be forced to live out of my bags for three and a half months and never feel fully at home here. Fortunately, as usual, I was wrong.

It’s now been two weeks (almost exactly), and I’ve settled quite nicely, if I do say so myself. I’m currently harboring a standard beginning-of-the-semester cold, but I feel at home in my closet-sized room. You’ll be happy to know that my roommate isn’t even a serial killer. We both found coffee that we like, we figured out how to use our stove (only after reporting it broken), and I’m like, 95% sure I don’t drive her crazy (yet).

Since we last spoke, I’ve toured the Houses of Parliament. I’ve seen Shakespeare’s Globe twice, and I crossed the Millennium Foot Bridge (albeit with some fear that Death Eaters will attack it again). I saw Brand New and Basement perform at Alexandra Palace and talked to a cute boy from New Zealand about music and traveling. I took the National Rail on a day trip to Brighton and toured the Royal Pavilion, and even dipped my toe into the English Channel (which was a cozy 60 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s been a very eventful two weeks, I’m not even sure how I’ve managed to still go to class.

Tourist attractions aside, I’ve fallen in love with real London. The Underground is a utopia compared to the Broad Street Line, and I have yet to encounter a bus that wasn’t exactly on time. In one of my classes, we were asked to describe the city in one word. Many said “traditional” or “posh” (a word that I have a serious bone to pick with), but all I could think was “organized.” London is the most well-oiled machine of a town I have ever experienced, and I am fully aware of the fact that it’s going to spoil me. SEPTA will seem even worse after I spend three months riding around on tubes that don’t smell like rotting garbage and cat pee.

I have approximately one million more things to say about this place, but TL;DR I’m in love.

Please note that starting with my next post, I’ll be incorporating some required posts for my blogging class this semester. All posts for that class will say #BlogLondon2015 (mostly so my professor can find them, but also so you guys know what you’re reading).  

cheers from across the pond, across the country, or across the hall,

xx Gabi