New Year, New Me!

Welcome to the Queen of Carry On #minimalism #travel #travelblogger

Big news!

Maybe you’ve noticed, once again, things have gone quiet around here. After a few months of bickering with myself back and forth, I’ve made the big decision to re-name my blog.

But! I love! It rhymes!

But the truth is, my blog name contains a derogatory term. That ain’t cool.

With the political turmoil in my home country, I cannot morally add to the fever of bigotry. I know there are a MILLION other popular blogs with the word “gypsy” in it, that have many more followers than my ole blog. The fact of the matter is thisI refuse to encourage racism and hatred by normalizing a slur.

Here is how I feel about it. Would it be appropriate to use the the blog name “The Nomadic N****.” HELL NO! I literally cringed typing that. So why is it appropriate for people of non-Roma descent to use the word “gypsy”? A word that was designed to ostracize a whole group of people. Men were taken to concentration camps. Women were beat to death in public AND still are threatened today. Children were kidnapped, sold, traded, if they weren’t murdered. Police detain children from their families for not looking like a gypsy- that is, the children had blonde hair and blue eyes. Schools in Italy and majority of Eastern Europe attempt to segregate an already belittled population. This is happening in 2017.

There aren’t many rules I believe in, but I do think it is wrong to “reclaim” a slur that is not designed for you. Yes, after decades of translations, gypsy has been added to the dictionary as a free-spirited person BEHIND the complete definition as the Roma people.

“Aye Lauren, lighten up a little? It’s just a joke. People take things so seriously now.”

That’s the problem. We’ve created a culture of humor where we have the power to mock, abuse, and use other culture’s, often sacred, traditions. I’m not saying I’ve never done that—I used to love dressing in Native clothing (on Thanksgiving *SHUDDER*). We can create new words. The dictionary adds a few every single year. Twerking ring a bell?

After a few months of soul-searching, I have chosen the name “Queen of Carry On” to represent my little space on the interwebz.

We will still focus on short-term travel, stress free living, and laughing at (and hopefully learning from) my countless mistakes. In the next few days, you will notice the blog www.queenofcarryon.com will be redirected to www.queenofcarryon.com. I would love to hear your thoughts on the name change!

Here’s to a new year filled with making the extra effort for an exquisite existence! Cheers y’all!

My First Voluntourism Trip to Africa… I’m Ghana Miss Y’all

my first trip to Africa... I'm Ghana Miss Y'all! #travel #explore

Things have been a little quiet around A Tipsy Gypsy Life, and for good reason. I didn’t want to spoil a surprise that I wasn’t certain was going to happen! This year, I promised I would personally explore a legitimate voluntourism venture and report back to my little spot on the interwebz, but with less than a month to get vaccines, a visa, and international bank transfers, I had my doubts. Before the drumroll, let’s catch up a little. 

Where Have I Been This Summer?

After my exhilarating trip to Hawaii, I spent some time over in the scorching Southeastern U.S.  First, I had the opportunity to watch my cousin get his Eagle Scout award in Tri-Cities, Tennessee. It was such a lovely party and needless to say, I was beyond proud of his accomplishments. Tri-Cities is a gorgeous little area in Eastern Tennessee that comprises of Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol. The communities are nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a stunning little portion of the Appalachian Mountains. If you make it over, be sure to get in camping and a visit to Dollywood, located a little under 2 hours drive away.

After Tennessee, I went straight to St. Petersburg for a few days of rest and relaxation. While visiting my hometown, I had to stop by the gem of the city- the Dali Museum. The collection never ceases to amaze, and the new building is the perfect setting for a post-tour rosé. I highly recommend grabbing the free audio tour- Dali had a mind worth exploring.

Last but definitely not least, I popped by New Orleans for a few days of sunshine and comfort food. No matter where I travel to, waltzing around the French Quarter on a Saturday is still one of my favorite past-times. Of course I had my favorite dish, pecan-crusted gulf fish, and a monsoon (or two). If you get the chance to visit, be sure to get at least a few of the city’s best drinks. Not much of a drinker? No worries, the food is what keeps people crawling back, anyways.

And the whole time I was worried because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make my trip to (drumroll please)….

Ghana in August!

As we’ve discussed once or twice, voluntourism is a little like U.S. lawyers- it’s either really, really good or really, really bad. Good intentions can so easily be twisted to long-term negative impacts, like displacing locals from jobs. A wonderful documentary I highly recommend is “Poverty, Inc.” The film offers a staggeringly honest look into the industries that have fueled the global poverty cycle.

Luckily, I put it out in the universe that I really really really wanted this voluntourism experience in August, and of course, you always get what you expect. From August 3-23, I’ll be working with local media professionals in Accra, Ghana to make a portfolio as part of New Lens Travel. Not only does the fee go to the expert leading the individual session, it also funds a youth newspaper. As of now, I’m between a blog editor, head of news at a radio station, and the creator of an online satirical publication. I’m ready to learn a thing or two.

While I’m in Ghana, I’ll be posting about everything I can get my hands on, from food, to nightclubs (yes, they have a rocking nightlife!), to nature explorations. If there’s anything you want to know about Accra, let me know and I will scope it out. That’s what travelers do, yeah?

Fun Facts About Ghana

I’m not going to lie, I knew literally NOTHING about Ghana prior to hooking up with the founder of New Lens Travel. Here are just a few of the things that excited me about the trip. 

They Speak English!

My Spanish is “get by-able” but not comfortably conversational. And any other languages? Maybe one day. But not today. And tomorrow doesn’t look too good either.  Although I love the feeling of disorientation in a new country, creating a legitimate media portfolio might be a little difficult if I can’t communicate! I’ve been told Ghana is a perfect entry country for a first-time visitor to Africa, but each community in each country is extremely unique. How unique? Ghana’s official language may be English, but they have over 250 additional languages and dialects!

Chocolate Galore.

Everyone has their weaknesses, and mine is definitely chocolate. I’ll shamelessly eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I thoroughly believe at least 30% of my joy in life comes from chocolate. And just my luck, West Africa produces significantly more cocoa than the rest of the world. And most importantly? Ghana is the number 2 exporter world wide. Unfortunately, the country gets a measly portion of the $100 billion industry. I’m planning on visiting a cocoa farm, time-willing, in hopes of supporting a legitimate, slave-free cocoa production and learning the tricks of the trade getting to know the people who make my favorite treat.

The Capital City Is On The Coast.

Y’all already know I’m a little mermaid! Even though I am *slightly* nervous about hanging out on a beach when I know it tends to be the target of plenty of terrorists attacks. As I’ve said before, I really am a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to traveling, but that’s why we do it… Right? Not only do the beaches mean sunbathing and swimming, but the tropical weather makes for perfectly plump fruit like mangoes!

How has your summer been? If you’re not in this hemisphere, how’s the weather down there?

A Weekend in Aruba: What We Did Wrong and What We Did Right

What to do and what NOT to do in #Aruba || #travel

The beautiful thing about working more than usual is getting paid more than usual. After I picked up a few extra days of singing Disney songs, running around Chuck E Cheese, and making dinosaur chicken nuggets (yes they still exsist!), I decided I deserved a damn break. So we hopped on a red-eye to ARUBA! Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya!  It was beyond bliss. But honestly, I have to be real with y’all. Preventably mistakes were made, and it’d be a shame to keep them to myself, eh? But first, some pictures.

 

Welcome to Aruba

  
   

  

  
  

WHAT WE DID RIGHT IN ARUBA

 

WE HAD OUR TSA PRE-CHECK IN ORDER

If you haven’t done this yet, what is stopping you? Scared of being in the system? Since I’ve done AmeriCorps and work with children, I’m pretty well documented thus far. Being able to skip the line and not be rushed through security is such a relief. Even better is when it is an international flight, and are able to skip ahead instead of waiting literally hours. If you haven’t been there yet, I pray you never have to endure that round of hell. The process takes 45-90 days, so start meow.

 

 Look at those happy pirates, who didn’t have to wait one single second in security.

 

WE HAD THE FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT DOWN PAT

So we spent about 20-24 hours traveling to enjoy 48 hours of vacation. You can’t help if you’re a weekend warrior sometimes. The idea of surviving long flights is not to fill your brain with as much stimulation as possible. Too little stimulation, you hold the chance of feeling groggy or misaligned with the new time zone. Don’t depend on your airline, especially if you’re flying coach. A human can only handle so much Seinfeild. One of the best ways to pass the time while maintaining the mental peace is adult coloring books. It’s even better when you have a partner, because you can take turns. Flying alone? Don’t be shy! Ask someone if your row to join you.

 

WE WENT SNORKELING ON A SMALLER TRIP

Not only was it one of the easiest and rewarding snorkel trips I’ve been on, it was a booze cruise! The most popular one is called the Jolly Pirates, which is a large pirate ship that takes a ton of people snorkeling for 4-6 hours depending on the package you choose. The group we went with was much smaller, and allowed us plenty of room to roam around. We all had the opportunity to enjoy the catamaran without feeling on top of each other. Big fan of space.

 

  

WE WON SOME BETS

Not to be a bad influence, but… if you haven’t gambled at all yet you’re missing out! I’m much more of a wiener (somehow that was literally the most appropriate word I could come up with) than Paulius and wanted to pull out early. *Ignoring all innuendoes.* We broken even on the craps, but the real deal was betting on UNC in the final four. We not only bet the winner, but by how much at half time 🙂 Resorts are a great place to learn how to gamble because it seems that in the U.S. people are much more concerned with getting hustled. Our people knew we were new and didn’t get too upset when I literally threw the dice

 

 

WE ATE LOCAL

Even if you don’t care for fish, you will LOVE grouper. It is the lightest, fluffiest, whitest fish in the sea. Perfect for ceviche or grilled for a sandwich. DON’T YOU DARE FORGET BITTERBALLEN. I’ve mentioned my love for this unidentifiable delectable ball of molten lava once or twice, and teh island does it right. Pro tip- crunch that sucka with a fork to release the steam or you WILL regret it.

 

 

 

AND WHAT WE DID WRONG IN ARUBA

 

We forgot to hydrate.

Granted, this is partially because we bought tickets less than 24 hours before departure. If you’re a new traveler, you may have not realized how downright dehydrate you get while traveling. Instead of tripling our water intake, we drank on the airplane. Although it didn’t effect our trip directly, because it was so short, we were certainly feeling it the days returning.

We didn’t get the right seats.

When you’re traveling as a couple, the best part is being able to cuddle up. However, I thought I would be girlfriend of the year by getting exit row seats- extra leg room right? Wrong, wrong, MFking WRONG! Why? The seats don’t tilt back NOR do the armrests lift. Luckily, we were just ecstatic being next to each other for a few uninterrupted hours. But keep in mind the exit row seats often do NOT recline- killer news for a red-eye flight.

We didn’t wear our team shirts.

No shit, we have these matching dolphin shirts that we wear one travel days. Like two painted dolphins frolicking in the sea with FLORIDA in big letters underneath. Maybe it’s all in our head, but Paulius and I both agree, it seems to make people be a little easier on us. I also have  a feeling if we ever were to get separated, the public would have an easy time putting two and two together… Or in our case, one and one?… No laughs? Fine, I’m done here.

We didn’t get Dutch Pancakes.

The story goes, they are fkin delicious on the island. Not to be confused with poffertjes, Dutch pancakes are very large and very thin, and can be savory like ham & cheese or sweet such as apple & cinnamon. This was one of two things that I really thought we would do, but just didn’t get to. Luckily for you though, I did ask around where the best are and the winner is allegedly Linda’s Pancakes.

We saw zero flamingoes.

You might imagine Aruba as a tropical paradise, with flamingo families scattered about. Babies learning to walk, moms and dads curled up in the sun. I’ve got some bad news for you, flamingoes aren’t even native to Aruba. All those pictures you see on Pinterest are from a private island calledRenaissance Island owned by the Renaissance Aruba hotel. Good news is you can pay to have a few hours of frolicking with the adorable birds. Personally, I felt a little silly getting excited to see non-native animals. A cab driver, life-time local and lovely woman, informed me that Bonaire is actually known for flamingos. You learn something new every day.

 

 

Have you ever been to Aruba? Did you know flamingos are not native?

Why Getting a Dog in College Was a Smart Decision

Want to get a puppy in college? Read why 5 years later I still think it was a great decision to get a dog. || a tipsy gypsy life #advice

Who doesn’t love dogs? Growing up, I begged and begged for a dog of my own. Sure, we had dogs, but we never went looking for them. We found one* running around my family’s business. We loved each other, but I could tell he loved my dad just as much. I wanted my own dog. Not a puppy. A big, slobbery, furry dog was all I wanted. So best believe when I signed my first lease, the first thing I did was adopt a puppy. People who didn’t know me thought it was a terrible idea. People who knew me weren’t surprised at all.

It was hard. He was the biggest rascal puppy I have met to date. He wanted to be around me and my roommate all the time. He’d knock over my wine if I wasn’t playing with him. When I’d bake, he’d sneak onto the stovetop and steal 1 cookie at a time so I wouldn’t notice. One night, after about six months, I went to New Orleans and asked my roommates to keep eye. That MF chewed up my brand new pair of royal blue Jessica Simpson pumps! And yeah, Jessica Simpson pumps were out of budget when I was 19! Part of me believes it’s karma for being a hellion in my youth, but I would not want him any other way.

But… Five years later… He has been there for me. Can’t say I was the best mum. He held his bladder when I was too drunk to take him out. When I was a senior, someone tried to break into my house. Banging and trying to kick it down. Smokey lost his mind and scared them off. He will literally come sprinting from anywhere in the house if I start crying, hop in my lap, and lick until I laugh. He gives me licks after I feed him as a “thank you.” He shivers with joy when I return from a trip. He’s my (really terrible) running partner. He’s my best bud.

*Side Confession- this poor thing (Nesta Mojo) was about 15 lbs underweight, missing skin, and had a serious rope burn around his neck. Apparently when my mom took him to the vet, he had a chip in him, which means he had a home. We kept him. Not sorry at all!* 

It made me develop a backbone.

Imagine this- you are all alone in the world. You are taken from your mom and dad and siblings. You can’t see or smell for a few weeks. And you have to potty outside… Having a living thing depend on you can get intense! But you’re going to have to develop that backbone sooner or later and man, did mine come in STRONG.

They teach you responsibility.

When all my other friends were staying out till 3 or not coming home at all, I had to be a big girl. No matter how tired, happy, or crunk I was, I had to go home.every.single.night. And if you know me at all, this was NOT easy. Not only do they need to go potty, they notice when you’re gone. Don’t be a dick.

You learn how to budget.

Puppies ain’t cheap. We’re talking hundreds of dollars worth of shots in the first few months. Two shots per year until they are 3 or so, then, yearly shots about 100-300 for the rest of their lives. You also have to pay for dog food.

They force you to create a schedule.

If you’re new around here, you might not understand how naturally free-spirited I am. If there are any ENFPs out there, you feel me on this. When they are young, you have to make sure to get them either outside or on the puppy-pad every 3-6 hours.

Keep in mind… 

If you’re thinking about getting a puppy, pay attention to where you plan on living. Many dogs, referred to as “attack breeds” are not allowed on many apartment complexes. Pitbulls, German Shepherds, and Dobermans are almost never allowed. Out in San Diego, I even had issues with Smokey being part bloodhound.

Yes, you can get them registered as your “emotional support animal.” However, in many places, your dog has to pass the Good Canine Citizen Test.  It’s not that easy! 

If you want a puppy, you should NOT get one. If you want a dog, you should. They will live (HOPEFULLY!) 8-16 years. That is a serious commitment. I got Smokey at 19. I will hopefully (but realistically) have him until I am 30. YOU ARE NOT THE SAME PERSON AT 19 AS YOU ARE AT 30. Don’t get a puppy because you want a fluffy toy. Don’t get a puppy because your ex dumped you. Don’t get a puppy because you’re lonely. And please for the love of God, DON’T DO IT FOR THE GRAM

 

Did you have a pet in college? Would you change it if you could?

 

How I went from a 1.2 GPA to Dean’s List (and you can too!)

 

How I went from a 1.2 GPA to Dean's List (and how you can too!) || a tipsy gypsy life #study #college

When I tell people that are just now getting to know me that I almost flunked out of university (true), they’re in shock. “But you’re in grad school!” “But you got job offers?” “But you seem … so serious.” The truth is, I went from a 1.2 GPA and losing a $40,000 scholarship to Dean’s List, job offers, and eventually grad school. Burn these words into your hear, “work smarter, not harder.” Repeat it out-loud. “WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER.” Got it?

 

BEFORE THE SEMESTER

  • Schedule smart
    • If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule a class before 11:00 a.m.
    • Check rate my professor. No need to go through a hell someone else has already experienced.
    • Never take more than 15 hours. Just don’t.
  • Get a planner
    • Make it a habit to check first thing in the morning (before your phone!)
    • Start with a standard daily planner with weekly and monthly inserts.
    • Fill out syllabus dates in pencil– professors will change at least one date per class
  • Sync all Apple calendars
  • Designate a study area
    • Must be clean & quiet 
    • You know yourself, if you can’t stand being around people when studying, don’t go to the library
    • Stock it with pens, pencils, pads, and a calculator.

DURING THE SEMESTER

  • Set up a meeting with every professor
    • This is your chance to show that you do care about your grades and they’ll be much more inclined to help you down the line.
    • Bring a copy of the syllabus
    • Ask if they have any recommended readings (which you don’t have to do).
  • Hard work gets a break
    • Read for 20 minutes, rest for 5
    • Plan at least one activity for pure joy and relaxation (find ways here).
  • Do a brain dump- This is KEY for writing essays. As someone who vividly remembers whipping out 12-20 page papers in 24 hours or less, this is a life-saver
    • Get your assignment, computer, timer, pen and paper
    • Read the prompt once.
    • Jot down the first 5 things that come to mind
    • Read the prompt again.
    • Type your response for 5 timed minutes.
    • Fill in the blanks with research.

 

AT FINALS

  • Check noteswap
    • Please make sure it’s for the right class, section, and professor
  • Set up your own noteswap with the class by sending a mass email
  • Email the professor with at least one question at least a week prior to the final. Don’t play coy, this is your future here.

 

AFTER THE EXAM

  • Email your professor asking if you can discuss your grade- if it’s close, they might bump it up to avoid a meeting.
  • Double-check your grades to make sure you aren’t missing any work.
  • Treat yo’self! It’s not the end of the world, just another semester.