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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home away from homesickness.

the following is a short stream-of-consciousness post originally written for my personal tumblr blog, slightly edited to exclude the many profanities originally included in it. 

I’ve been missing London so much lately.

I miss my boyfriend like hell, but now that I’ve spent time with him outside of London and in Philly, I’m realizing just how much I actually miss London itself. They’ve become two separate things because they’re no longer connected the way they used to be. I miss Simon beyond words, but now it’s becoming very clear to me just how much London as a city has come to mean to me. It’s no longer just because Simon is there and I want to be where Simon is. Simon was here, in my city, in my apartment, nowhere near London, and I still missed London.

I miss the tube, the underground, my commute to and from school. I miss the streets and the cars and the people. I miss the dirty-ass Thames. I miss Boots. I miss Oxford Street, and Primark. I miss the countryside full of greenery and cows. I miss the train ride to Simon’s house. I miss Simon’s family, Simon’s friends, Simon’s car. I miss having such easy access to the rest of Europe. I somehow miss living in a tiny closet, because I was living in such an awesome place with someone who ended up becoming a really great friend of mine. I miss walking through Kings Cross, and up the road to Angel to yell at Vodafone for their awful customer service. I miss Brian, the professor who had us meet him in bars every other week and then just walked around talking to us for three hours and called it class. I miss the pubs, the atmosphere. I miss surprisingly delicious real-chicken McDonald’s. I miss Pret. I miss Nando’s. God, I miss Nando’s.

It has always blown my mind how much any given song can take you back to a particular time in your life. It’s crazy to me that I hear My Way by Fetty Wap and want to burst into tears because it reminds me of London. I listened to it on repeat for an hour today. Just put my headphones in, sat up straight, closed my eyes, and hoped that when I’d open them, I’d be on the Piccadilly Line.

I miss seeing Brand New with a girl I had just met at Alexandra Palace, I miss seeing Fall Out Boy for the fourth time and meeting the love of my life at Wembley. I miss Camden, real Camden, and Shoreditch. I miss the jitters of waiting in line to meet Pete Wentz. I miss Hyde Park and high tea. I miss Kensington, real Kensington, and casually walking past Buckingham Palace. I miss seeing the London Eye from my bedroom window.

I just miss London. Damn, I miss London.

xx Gabi

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)

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

“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

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

life-changing experiences + being alone.

It can be difficult to determine whether or not something is truly a life-changing experience or not. We don’t always want to label something as “life-changing” because chances are, more important things will happen to us one day, and we don’t want that powerful label to lose its meaning. That said, after much consideration, I am officially declaring yesterday a life-changing experience for me.

If any of you follow me on social media (*eh hem* Twitter, Instagram), you might’ve seen that I was given the opportunity to meet Pete Wentz yesterday. Pete, the bassist of my all-time favorite band Fall Out Boy, did a signing at their three-day pop-up shop in Camden, and I was one of the 120 fans that got to attend. (Side note: I have to give most of the credit to my girl Sam for this one. She made her way over to Camden before sunrise on Friday to wait in line for the wristbands to get in, and if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have known that I could show up at 9:30 and still get one. Thanks for not sleeping all night so I could, babe!)

I have been a diehard fan of Fall Out Boy since my older sister put Sugar We’re Going Down and Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year on one of her mix CDs in 2004 and left it in the boombox in our bathroom. (Side note #2: When was the last time you heard the word “boombox”?) I caught up on FOB’s first two albums (From Under the Cork Tree becoming one of my favorite albums ever), fell in love with their next two, and survived the 2010-2013 hiatus (though seriously struggled when My Chemical Romance broke up during it — my little emo heart couldn’t deal). I reveled in the glory of their comeback during my senior year of high school and I am thrilled to report that they’re still excellent, unlike many bands that get back together and suddenly don’t know how to make good music anymore.

Being such a huge fan, I was actually kind of scared to meet Pete. It was mostly because I was worried my legs would just give out when I saw him, but it was also because I was so terrified that I would be disappointed. It is unfortunately common that someone meets their favorite celebrity just to find out that they aren’t really good people, but I felt fairly secure in the fact that Pete was known for being a nice person and that the whole universe hadn’t been lying to me all these years. (Spoiler: It hadn’t.)

With Pete Wentz in the Fall Out Boy Pop-Up Shop at Rock 'N' Roll Rescue Camden, 11 October 2015.
With my husband Pete Wentz in the Fall Out Boy Pop-Up Shop at Rock ‘N’ Roll Rescue Camden, 11 October 2015.
The newest (and biggest) addition to my wall, signed by Pete.
The newest (and biggest) addition to my wall, signed by Pete.
There’s something ironic about meeting someone known for singing and screaming on stage just to find out that they’re really quiet off stage. It is equally ironic that I, the girl who never shuts up, was completely silenced just from being in Pete’s presence. I don’t think either of us said more than two words to each other, and after he signed my new most prized possession and took a selfie with me, I was escorted out, borderline paralyzed in awe and slightly confused by what had just happened to me. At least I didn’t cry?

Alright, Gabi, we get it. You met Pete. What does this have to do with being alone?

Well, disembodied voice, if you must know, after the signing, I attended Fall Out Boy’s show at the SSE Arena in Wembley by myself. I had never been to a show alone before last night, and I think I can safely call it my new favorite thing.

I have been to many concerts in my life, and Fall Out Boy has been a large chunk of them. This was my fourth FOB experience, and by far, my best FOB experience. I was anxious about going to a show alone. I usually like having someone to stick with because the idea of getting sucked into a mosh pit with no one to pull me out is terrifying, but I realized after seeing Brand New perform at Alexandra Palace that getting separated from your friends at a show is almost inevitable. With that in mind, I embarked on my journey to Wembley alone, prepared to take on the wild crowd on my own. Halfway through FOB’s first song (after staying relatively calm during their three opening acts), I realized that I shouldn’t be fighting the crowd, I should be embracing it. I’m not really the kind of person to have my back against the wall all night at a show, but I have never been a crazy “dance like no one’s watching” person. That changed last night.

Clearly, the only logical explanation is that my friends are bad people. I’m always with them and have kept my dancing fairly reserved out of fear of being judged by them, but being on my own last night, I have never felt more uninhibited. Possibly apart from the group of people I met at the show who knew nothing about me and couldn’t justifiably judge me, no one was watching me, so I danced like it. I jumped, I screamed, I sweat, and I almost passed out from dehydration. My feet are still screaming almost 24 hours later and the fact that I have a voice right now has got to be some kind of scientific breakthrough. Having fun has nothing to do with the people around you, but everything to do with yourself. I always thought that I had less anxiety going to a show with friends than I would on my own, but going to this show alone proved me wrong. “Care-free” is the last adjective I would use to describe myself, but last night, that is what I was.

xx Gabi

P.S. If you’re interested in listening to some Fall Out Boy, you can check out my Spotify playlist, “Fall Out Boy: Gabi’s Top Ten.” If you don’t have Spotify, I can only recommend that you look these songs up on your own.

  1. XO
  2. I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me
  3. Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save The Scene And Stop Going To Shows)
  4. Dance, Dance
  5. A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me”
  6. Thnks Fr Th Mmrs
  7. Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year
  8. Irresistible
  9. The Kids Aren’t Alright
  10. Saturday

Please note that this is my personal top ten and I will fight with you about this for hours if you try to tell me I’m wrong. Someone please take that as a challenge.

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