The Salem Experience for $20 or Less

Come for the witches, stay for the tiny hand-blown glass animals.

image2.jpegThat’s not the slogan for the town of Salem, but it definitely is for my time there. I was initially interested in the grisly history of the witch trials, especially since it’s perfect for Halloween. I mean, the pivotal film Hocus Pocus is set there. But I must confess I spent much more of my time delicately combing through a tray of miniature polar bears and dogs and squids than I did contemplating the fickleness of humanity at the witch trials memorial.

Perhaps the most important part of my Salem adventures, however, is the fact that I spent less than twenty dollars for the whole day, train fare included. Here are my tips for how you can spend a day in the insanely-crowded town without breaking the bank!

1. Don’t buy your tickets on the train

Just go over to the little Charlie card ATM-like robot and buy a ticket. It’s a couple dollars cheaper, and those couple dollars can buy you a magical stone. A magical stone!!! More on that later.

2. The best souvenirs are also pretty cheap

Earlier — as in, immediately before this — I mentioned a little something about a magical stone. It’s time to talk more about that. I spent the unbelievable price of ONE AMERICAN DOLLAR on a stone that promises to increase my success, elevate my mood, and grant wishes. And it looks good doing it! This is an amazing and useful souvenir, especially since I’ve already gone a few days and haven’t lost it!

A lot of the stuff in the witchy stores in Salem is reasonably priced. So are postcards and little things like that. If you want a souvenir from your spooky journey you don’t have to break the bank!

 

3. Walking around is free

Tiring, yes, but free. Sometimes it’s like people forget you don’t have to pay for a tour in order to see stuff. The witch trials memorial is really amazing and right in town. The historical sights can be gazed at from afar with no added cos

t. There’s even the Salem Heritage Trail, which is similar to Boston’s Freedom Trail but distinctly witchier.

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And some of the most fun I had in Salem was walking around the stores. This is not because I am Isla Fisher in the 2009 film adaptation of Sophie Kinsella’s bestselling novel Confessions of a Shopaholic, but rather because there are a ton of cool stores in Salem. Some of them are so cool there is a line to get in! My favorite one was The Coven’s Cottage, and I chose to buy my magical stone from there because I liked the vibe. There are also wand stores, knick knack stores and bookstores, and all of these make for a fun browse!

4. Spend some money on the experience

For me, this meant forking over a couple of ones for a hot apple cider. 

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(Review: watery, but delicious!) For some of my fellow travelers, this meant fried dough, a book on Wiccan spells, a bandana for a dog or fifteen minutes with a fortune-teller. Some people enjoy feeling unsafe and frightened, and these people would not be able to visit Salem without entering the doors of one of Salem’s many haunted houses. There’s not much point to visiting if you don’t feel spooky or Halloween-y or, in short, Salem-y. So it’s worth it to shell out some cash for that One Thing.

In short: Salem is great and very Halloween-feeling and it doesn’t have to be expensive! If you plan in advance and consider what will make your experience really worthwhile, you can have a solid day for $20 or less.

 

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How to Escape Your Syllabus Prison

College. It’s supposed to be the time when you find yourself, when you make your lifelong friends, when you come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be in debt forever and you’d best get used to the taste of ramen noodles because that’s about as close to luxury as it’s going to get for the next couple of decades. Yes, college is all of these things, but college is also something else.

It’s a two-to-four year period when you have so much assigned reading that it feels like if one more word is transferred from the page to your brain you may explode. So how, pray tell, is reading anything not listed on a syllabus possible when every day is an increased risk to your body’s stability?

It requires sacrifice. But not soul-sacrifice, thankfully, because the ability to find time to read for pleasure would be a fairly mundane thing for which to sell your soul. Save that for the big leagues.

 

1. Prioritize Reading

Between homework, studying, essays, socializing, and some light witchcraft, free time can be tough to find for a college student. This is already horrible because free time is the best time, but it’s even worse because getting free time when you aren’t used to it is a weird amount of pressure. For me, it usually goes something like this:

I have some time! Sick. I’ll just check in on a few things on my laptop….Oh, three years have passed? I’m now legally missing? So much time has gone by that the motivation to search is fading in the hearts of those who love me? Right, of course.

To avoid this Rip van Winkle-esque experience, pick up a book immediately. Your phone can tear that book from your cold dead hands.

You may even have to pass on social plans in order to read, which is always weird. RSVPing “nah” in order to read is so profoundly dorky that the person you are politely rejecting may struggle to conceptualize just what this means. But the only way out is through, my friend, and if you just keep on being a full-on dweeb once in a while your loved ones will take the hint. And maybe even remain in your life if you’re lucky.

2. Carry a Book with You

There are approximately one million pockets of time during the typical class day during which you can read at least a couple paragraphs. Examples: arriving to class early, one of those weird breaks very kind professors occasionally grant midway through a class, when that one student who answers every question finally fulfills their dream of forcing two dozen sleepy young adults to listen to them for a few minutes. This can be prime reading time if you have a book, or an e-book app on your phone, if you happen to be a person who reads for the content and not for the experience of a physical book.

3. Traveling

One fact of life is that people go places. If you are ever going to a place and you are not controlling a vehicle or the movement of your own legs, this is a good time to read. If you live off campus and commute to class on a train or bus or whatever – boom, reading time! If you live far away and find yourself on a plane – that’s reading time, baby. Take advantage!

4. Keep a List and Read Good Stuff ONLY

This point really only needs to be the length of a link, and that link is goodreads.com. Learn it, live it, love it. Make a list of 500 books you’re excited to read and then realize you’ll never have time to read all of them.

5. Try Different Formats

Audiobooks are technically books, and you can do more activities while you read them. You can keep e-books on your phone or laptop or even an e-reader if you time traveled from 2007, and then they’re everywhere you are. Two win-win situations.

Really, finding time to read is a personal thing. This is my way of saying, “Do not blame me if this doesn’t work. You have to do this yourself, and also I just tricked you into reading this whole entire post only to find out that it may not help you at all.” But I hope it does. Happy reading!

Being The Change

The events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia last week are nothing short of appalling. Watching the news has made me feel so incredibly sick. I’m upset, angry, and looking to make a change. As a young adult in the world today I am in an important place of power. I have the power to control the future of our nation by speaking up about important issues. I encourage you to do the same because every voice is valuable!

Take an inside look into what happened in Charlottesville by checking out this documentary created by VICE. The footage gives great insight into the minds of some of the individuals involved with the rally and how their actions affected those around them.

I hope this film made you just as upset as it made me. Getting enraged is what will spark the fire to make a change. I wish I could show this film to every single person my age to create a reaction. It is one thing to read a tweet about what happened in Charlottesville, but taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of those who were there when it happened creates a whole differe

This past Saturday there was a free speech rally in the Boston common, and I have never been more proud of my city. Hate was met by an outpouring of love. The counter protest consisted of at least 30,000 individuals marching to fight bigotry and hate. The rally was for the most part peaceful and no extreme acts of violence were reported by the Boston police. There is just as much room for love in this world as there is for hate.

Boston “Free Speech” Counter Protest – Aug. 19, 2017

I was feeling down and upset last week but after Saturday I felt my body fill up with hope. Boston proved that love can overcome hate.

As far as what you can do, reach out to Republican state reps and speak up about the change you wish to see in our government. Every voice is important and speaking up is the best thing you can do at this time. We must bring these issues to the attention of local officials who have the power to invoke greater change. Every individual can impact a bigger change.

Check out this link for more information: https://hastebin.com/tosetacemo.coffeescript

Resist, resist, resist. Combat hate with love. Persevere. There are things going on everyday that inspire me to take action and I hope that more young people will educate themselves and get involved because we are the change.

What I’ve Learned In 20 Years

Yesterday I turned 20 and I have had time to reflect on a lot of things. The greater part of the last 20 years has been filled with laughter, love, and adventure. Just the way I like it. I decided to create a list of lessons I’ve learned thus far to analyze how I’ve grown over the past 2 decades.

Failure is a Necessity

Recently I have been faced with a fair amount of failure and rejection but it’s only made me stronger. I hope for the best but have learned that I cannot control everything and failure is good for me. I have learned to appreciate the philosophy that everything happens for a reason. I can choose to focus on all of the negativity, but I’ve learned to move past it and continue working for what I want.  A lot of rejection in a row can take a toll on a person but rising up through the pain is such a rewarding feeling. There is hope out there, but only if you keep trying no matter how many people tell you no. Keep persevering and keep telling yourself you are worth it. I’ve spent hours creating cover letters for internships that never even got back to me. I applied to jobs where the interview went really well and still never got the position. I’ve come to realize that I’m not what everyone is looking for. There is someone out there coveting your personality and skill set, keep looking for it.

Love Gets You Through

No matter how many bad days I have, the people I love are always there to make me feel better. Keeping steady relationships with family, friends, a significant other — I believe those are the foundation of a good life. The people I trust are everything to me and having a solid support system has allowed me to learn more about myself than I ever thought possible. These people have taught me about what I need in a relationship and what I am expected to give back to maintain mutual trust and respect. If you give love, you will get love. Whether it’s with your friends, your family, or your significant other. There is always room to invite love into your life and I have learned to welcome the love with open arms. In a way I believe that love is at the center of human existence because it gives us a deeper purpose and validation in the world. There are most definitely times of heartbreak and loneliness, but no matter where those feelings fall they can be replaced with love. Friendship love is one of the most beautiful kinds because you pick your friends. When you score with someone who truly cares and understands you, it is quite an amazing feeling.

You Can’t Be Friends With Everyone

Work has taught me about this most. I worked in a restaurant for about two years and I most definitely did not like everyone I worked with. I had some great friends, but people who didn’t carry their own weight always got on my nerves. I learned how to take a deep breath, focus on myself and give my best personal performance. I did my job and I did it well, which is all that I can ask of myself. I’m not going to like everyone and not everyone is going to like me. That’s just the way life is and it took me a long time to realize that. In grade school you are, for the most part, surrounded by the same people who you’ve grown up with since kindergarten. When you enter the real world after high school there are people you’ve never met before that have no reason to dislike you, but will. I learned this lesson going into college and I have accepted the fact that that’s how life goes. I am myself and simply because of that people won’t like me…and it’s okay. This is a big one for me. In high school it was difficult for me to get caught involved with petty friend issues and problems with my family. Looking back on how I’ve matured since then is really a rewarding feeling because I’ve learned to brush things off a lot easier. I won’t deny that I’m a sensitive person, but I try to reason with my emotions to not take things too personally. When I’m faced with a problem I think about where the other person is coming from and how I can use that information to gauge the situation. This mental process helps me let things go a lot easier and in return lowers my stress levels. I used to take it so personally when a customer wouldn’t be friendly to me, but now I think about how I am doing my best and if they’re having a bad day I can’t change that and I hope they feel better. The more I think about letting things go and filling my life with peace, the more it takes form and happens.

Me Time

I am a busy bee all the time. If you aren’t busy 24/7 do you even go to Emerson? I balance my life equally between academics, work, friends, and myself. There have been many times when I forget to care for myself and I feel overworked very quickly. By age 20, two years into college, I have found a a way to prioritize myself as well. Taking nights off to drink tea and do absolutely nothing. The thought sounds disgusting… doing nothing.

However, I need to do nothing sometimes. Alone time is sacred to me. Just to unwind, yoga breath, and have everything be still for a little while. Boston is a fast paced city anyways so it can be difficult to take a step back. Find your happy place and soak in the solitude. This lesson might be the most important thing I’ve learned over the past 20 years. It has led to more happiness for myself and those around me. It allows me time to think about everything going on and evaluate if I am truly happy or not. I cut out any negativity and focus on all of the great things going on in my life. There is no better feeling than when you feel content with the decisions you’ve made for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be selfish!!!

I’m excited to be 20 and break into a new decade filled with new challenges, adventures, and life lessons. Expect another article in 10 years about what I’ve learned by 30…hopefully some of the lessons listed above will still ring true with me.

Being Present

 

Credit: Pinterest

Last week I came across the above quote and it really spoke to me. Being physically present and being mentally present have two completely different definitions. Lately I have been feeling the absence of deep, meaningful conversations in my life and I yearn for that void to be filled.

I cannot remember the last time a phone wasn’t pulled out at some point during a conversation. When hanging out with a group of friends all it takes is one person to pick up their phone and everyone feels obligated to check theirs too. We have grown accustomed to the presence of technology and it is getting harder and harder to be fully present in day to day life. The truth about technology is saddening because no one my age knows how to entertain themselves without a screen. Someone whip out Yahtzee or Pictionary, PLEASE.

It may seem ridiculous to live without technology but pulling back from constant screen use is a great way to slow down your brain. Lock your phone and instead pass some time by reading, journaling or drawing…unleash the creativity! Once enough time is focused in a more constructive place than the depths of someone’s Instagram page a feeling of relaxation arises. There will always be time to be engrossed in social media but I hope more than anything that young people can learn to stay present in the more simple joys of life.

When having a conversation, I try to remind myself to continuously look someone in the eye and ask questions about what they are saying. That is the best way to show your true interest in another person. It is just too easy to get lost behind a screen when the world is going by around us. We walk around engrossed in the latest Tasty video or Snapchat story, completely oblivious to the beauty passing by with every step.

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It may seem impossible to go a full day without your phone but the experience will allow you to see the world a little differently. You don’t need that perfectly staged Snapchat video or Instagram story to show that you are having fun with your friends. There is definitely pressure in our world today about posting constantly to ensure that your followers know you are maintaining an interesting life. Your friends that you are hanging out with already know how much fun you are. Pictures and videos are great, but soaking in the memories with your eyes and ears is more organic and fulfilling.

It is always great to snap some pics of a new place or some cool food, but save the editing and posting until after in order to enjoy the rest of the day. People always seemed surprised when I say I left my phone at home for the day or night; it’s like a security blanket that is thought to be a necessity when I can function just as well without it.

Right now you are looking at a screen, as are billions of people around the world. Try taking a breather from all the screens and pay attention to the beautiful details all around you because the world is a lot more interesting than the Instagram popular page.

I snapped this pic before embarking on a beautiful walk down the beach a few weeks ago. Left my phone in the car (:

 

Navigating Professional Dress

I spent 3 weeks in professional clothing.

via Tumblr

3 sad, long weeks without leggings, sweatshirts, t-shirts, sneakers, moccasins – basically all of my most loved pieces in my wardrobe.

And the reason why I spent 3 weeks in professional clothing was primarily due to the fact that I was pledging Emerson College’s only local, professional sorority, Kappa Gamma Chi! Now that those 3 weeks are over and I crossed into Kappa, I learned a lot about professionalism and what it means to dress professionally; especially figuring out how to balance professionalism with comfort.

For the most part, I had two constant questions running through my mind when I was pledging: Is professional dress limited to a select handful of clothing options? Are we all going to be stuck wearing dress pants, blouses, and heels for the rest of our lives?

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Eating & Crying My Way through Midterms

CREDIT: tumblr user remindmewhatiusedtolike
CREDIT: tumblr user remindmewhatiusedtolike

Midterms are here.

And at this moment in time, I am surprised to say that I do not feel extremely stressed out. Since my exams and projects are spread out through this month, I am anticipating my transformation into the peak definition of a hot mess by the time midterms are done and as finals loom in the distance. I suppose that is why I want more than ever to hide in my basement forty-five minutes away from campus and stay there until all of my academic responsibilities fly away. With this in mind, it is important to figure out the ways we can all destress and to have snippets of quality time where we are able to seek comfort and positivity. And for me, I am definitely one of those people who benefit from eating good food and crying.

Continue reading “Eating & Crying My Way through Midterms”

Get Out the Vote at Emerson

On Tuesday, November 8th, millions of Americans will cast their votes in the presidential election. But, you might be shocked by how many college students find themselves confused and lost once election season finally rolls around. For many students, their first experience voting will be via an absentee ballot, and yet obtaining that ballot may not seem like a simple task. Students may find themselves wondering: when is the absentee ballot application deadline? And, why do we even need to apply for an absentee ballot? Or, for college kids even further behind, they may be left wondering how to register in the first place.

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Back to Campus: Quelling College-Related Anxiety

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Last August, I was terrified to start college.

On another hand, I was also excited to get to campus. Soon, I’d be taking classes in the areas of study that most interested me. My roommates and I had already become well-acquainted through the power of Facebook, which ensured I would not be entering my college years alone.

Still, I had lived in the same comfortable, yet boring, town for the majority of my life. Though my most valuable friendships were not made until high school, I had gone to class alongside the same students for years. My school wouldn’t be too far from home but I recognized that college would still bring tremendous change to my life. And, unfortunately, change can be scary.

Continue reading “Back to Campus: Quelling College-Related Anxiety”

How to Read More Books This Summer

Throughout childhood and into my teens I always had a book on hand—they were my greatest pleasure, and most of my all-nighters in high school were the fault of compelling novels rather than term papers. Then I came to college and something shifted. Thrown into a new environment and adjusting to so many new lifestyle changes, recreational reading fell a long way down on my list of priorities. If I read at all, they were textbook chapters and assigned books for my classes. Unread novels began to pile up on my bookshelf. Instead of cracking open one of the books I’d brought from home, I spent my evenings binge-watching Netflix or cracking jokes in the common room. Even after I’d adjusted to the rhythm of college life, my lack of reading had become a habit of its own and the number of books I read annually took a noticeable dive.

Some people are fine with this kind of reading volume. Maybe you get your stories from movies or television without any internal compunctions. This is a totally valid way to feel about books. Stories and creative stimulus are not confined to literature. Drama, film, performance art, etc.—all mediums of storytelling are fulfilling in their own way. But if, like me, unread books lurk at the back of your mind, if you feel guilty every time you walk out of a bookstore, if you grow increasingly frustrated every time you look at your bookshelf, or feel you are losing a valuable part of your identity, read on to discover how you can reclaim a love of books this summer.

SET ASIDE TIME TO READ

If you want reading to be part of your life, you need to make time for it. When people say “I don’t have enough time to read”, they are not approaching the problem correctly. They’re probably thinking about the cumulative amount of time it might take to finish a book, to flop down on a couch for a few hours with a new read and finish it in one sitting. Nobody has that kind of time anymore—the trick is to teach yourself to read in small bites. Maybe you don’t have a couple of hours to spare, but what about half an hour? Read on your lunch break or for 30 minutes at night in bed before you go to sleep. As an added benefit, reading a physical book instead of looking at the blue light from a computer or mobile device before bed may help you sleep more soundly!

READ OUTSIDE YOUR HOME

If you really can’t carve out any time at home for reading, let those spare minutes find you instead, and be prepared for them. Books, after all, are a uniquely portable magic. Waiting rooms, checkout lines, airport terminals—all were made for reading. Carry a book with you wherever you go. And don’t count out time while you’re driving! Audiobooks are growing in popularity, and thanks to services like Audible and iBooks they are more accessible than ever. By being flexible with when and how you read, books have more opportunities to capture your interest and integrate themselves into your daily routine.

READ INDULGENTLY, NOT RESPONSIBLY

Read books that you want to read. This sounds like a no-brainer, but for me it was a lesson that bore repeating. While I was in my book rut I was trying to read books like Paradise Lost or the collected letters of Robert Penn Warren. They were long, academic books that I felt I ought to read, that I wanted to have read, but when it came down to it I was not particularly interested in actually reading.

Recreational reading should not feel like work. If you’re struggling to finish a book, or find it all too easy to forget about it for days at a time, set it aside and find something new. There are too many books in the world to waste time on a boring one. Read what you like, whether it’s graphic novels or YA series or romances or science fiction, and don’t let yourself settle for anything that doesn’t excite you.