Kids, Love of Teaching, Mental Health, school, Students, Teach, Teaching

Teaching after a School Shooting

Today, I write with a heavy heart.

I am an educator in the U.S.  This week, we once again saw another mass shooting at a school.  My heart breaks.  My stomach churns.  I cried as I watched the videos.  Yet, our country turns against one another instead of coming together to find solutions to keep our kiddos safe.

Why?

A statistic was released this week that 18 school shootings have occurred since January 1, 2018.  Then different stories came out about each of these shootings.  Some shootings were due to suicides on school campuses but not in school hours.  Others were from bullets hitting a window.  A round of bullets being fired in a school parking lot.  The stories continued.  Here is the fact though: There have been multiple school shootings this year.  That is appalling.  For those screaming “There were only three, not eighteen!” Shame. On. You.  There was one, more than one.  It’s an issue. A large and scary issue.

As teachers, we go above and beyond to keep our kiddos safe.  We will, and do, put our lives on the lines to save your child.  We put our own families and children on the back burner so your kid is safe and learns in a welcoming and safe environment.

So why do I write this?  For many of my international readers, I always value your opinions.  Why?  Simple:

  • The UK has not had a school shooting since 1996.
  • Australia’s last school shooting was in 1996.
  • Germany, Finland, and Scotland have responded to attacks on schools with large policy changes.
  • Switzerland has high gun ownership, but school shootings do not exist.
  • In Germany, you must pass a rigorous psychological and medical exam if you are under 25 and trying to obtain a firearm.

Here are more facts:

  • Parents are waking up this morning with their child no longer alive in their bed.
  • Parents are planning their child’s funerals.
  • Bright minds and futures were extinguished this week quickly and violently.
  • The gunman legally bought his firearm, even after being flagged by the FBI for speaking about becoming a professional school shooter.
  • Our children need to be safe at school.

As a teacher, I find myself reading comments from individuals saying that teachers are “sitting ducks” and “too merciful” if a gunman entered the school.  Little do they know that teachers will fight to the death to keep their students safe.  I’ve watched, heard, and read individuals fight more about guns and firearms, instead of discuss the issue at hand and speak intelligently and respectfully about ways to protect our future.

Our kids come to school with problems–abuse, financial burdens, hungry, homeless, hurt, and broken.  They carry the worries of their parents and families.  Some do not know where their next meal will come.  These kiddos depend on our schools to keep them safe and away from harm.  School shootings should not be added to their worries.

Whatever your stance may be, let’s get one thing straight: We must protect our kids at all costs.  Instead of becoming divided on this issue, let’s strike a spark in our country to make a change and keep our children safe. 

We have parents, teachers, and students afraid to go to school, worried if it will happen to them, and planning what to do if the event happens.  Being prepared is a must.  However, what can we do as Americans to get this issue under control?  Other countries have, why can’t we? Let’s not forget this event and merely move forward.  Let’s spark change.

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Job, Kids, Love of Teaching, school, Students, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Learning, Teaching and Traveling

Top 10 Teacher Pet Peeves

Let me say. this first–I LOVE my profession.  Just like any profession, we have our own pet peeves that make us want to pull our hair out and bang our head against the brick wall.  So what are our top 10 pet peeves?

 

TOP 10 TEACHER PET PEEVES

  1. No Name on Paper–Please…please, just write your stinkin’ name at the top of the page.                                           name on paper
  2. Repeating Myself...for the hundredth time–When I spent 10 minutes explaining the direction, and a hand immediately raises and asks “what am I supposed to do?” my eyes slightly bulge and I have to count to ten in my head.              frustrated gifs
  3. Losing Planning Time–Yes, let’s take my 30 minute planning period that I am supposed to grade papers, create a differentiated lesson, answer emails and phone calls, create materials, and set up lesson preps and just get rid of it for something else that is a waste of time.                                 frustrated gifs 1
  4. Talking during the lesson–Maybe you’d know what to do if you stopped talking to your friend….                                       teacher gifs 1
  5. Long meetings–A short meeting?  What are those?  They do not exist.            meeting gifs
  6. Misbehaving during an Observation–We’ve all been there.           ill_kill_you_office
  7. Extra Credit Requests–Sure, extra credit is sometimes needed if a massive group of students don’t do well on a test (when in reality we should re-evaluate our teaching methods and re-teach the lesson), and sometimes one student does bomb a test.  I’m not talking about that.  We know that kid.  The one who never studies.  The one who has an excuse for every homework assignment or project.  No…no you may not get extra credit.                                            willy wonka
  8. Will This Be on the Test?–Yes.                            yes
  9. Seeing the Classroom as their Bedroom–I’ll never forget my second year of teaching.  I had a fabulous group of kiddos.  Yet, I will never forget a student who constantly lost his papers.  Finally, I asked him where he was placing them.  “I put them right here on the floor!  Someone must have stolen my papers!” No kiddo.  No.  That’s when I explained my room was not his bedroom.  It was an eye-opening and ground breaking moment for him.                                  why would you do that
  10. Do We Have To?–What do you think the answer will be? Yes.  Then Yes.             teacher gifs 4

 

But at the end of the day, we wouldn’t trade our job for anything else!

 

xoxo

You Wanderer

Anxiety, Anxious, Career, Food, Help Needed, High Functioning Anxiety, Job, Kids, Mental Health, Questions, Students, Teach, Teaching, Time Management

Anxiety Tips

In my last post, I explained some triggers for anxiety.  Dealing with anxiety myself, I was able to see some of the five biggest reasons for anxiety coming on and coming on strong.

As stated before, I have high functioning anxiety.  However, there are multiple types of anxiety that range from looking completely normal to outsiders to not being able to leave your house or enjoy social outings.  So how does one function or overcome anxiety?

Honestly, I don’t know if I can say you completely “beat” it, but you are able to cope with it.  One of my longest friends has dealt with anxiety for years, but it worsened when she was hit hard with depression as well.  She felt helpless and didn’t know where to turn.  As I spoke with her this week, she followed some of the same tips I did when my anxiety seemed out of control.  After a month, she was able to have a positive conversation and see the importance of mental health.  Is this a cure all post? Absolutely not.  However, I wanted to provide some tips for those who may not know where to turn, what do do, or how to get their mental health under control.

Included are 5 tips to help you cope with anxiety.

  1. Breathing Techniques–While in counseling and even seeing medical doctors, I found that breathing techniques became a way to give me a moment of peace.  Sure, it didn’t cure the anxiety, but it gave me a moment of help when things were hectic.  The saying “just breath” makes every single person with anxiety want to hit you over the head with a frying pan.  Learning how to breathe is a different story.  Counting to ten did NOTHING for me.  Alright, 1,2,3….this does nothing. For some it helps, but I found focusing on my breathing was what I needed.  Deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.  The breathing was quick and short when I started.  I had to learn how to take in deep breaths and zone out everything else.  Only my breathing.  I also found that sticking my head between my knees while breathing truly helped.  It calmed down my heart rate, lessened any dizziness, and I could focus on just my needs.  Instead of focusing on my anxiety, I would purposefully turn my thoughts to something positive.  It wasn’t easy at first.  Plain and simple.  It takes time folks.  You have to retrain your brain how to think and even your body on how to respond.     breathing gif
  2. Therapy/Counseling-Going to talk to someone about your problems at a large financial rate seems silly and pointless to many individuals.  Why should I tell someone else about my problems?  They can’t help me.  Talking about it won’t do a thing, I need actions.  Well, for some individuals, this is a life saving action. Therapy and counseling has changed over the years as well.  Sure, you can talk to someone one-on-one or even in a group setting.  However, mobile apps, texting, video chats, email, and online chats can be a form of help as well.  If you’re unconfortable meeting with someone (especially those with social anxiety) try a form of email, phone call, or even texting at first.  Let me stress this though–mental health apps are not an alternative for professional therapy, but it can help with day-to-day issues and stress.  Going to therapy was a big step for me.  An embarrassing step to be completely honest.  It took almost 6 months before I saw results.  One session does not fix years of anxiety and stress.  Yet, I saw results. Going and seeing a professional was a life changing experience for my mental health.  I no longer saw it as a weakness, but strength because I was reaching out and asking for help.  My therapist gave me techniques and tips for managing my anxiety (many that I’m sharing with you), and gave me “homework” to do at home to help with my specific issues.  If you’re sick or have a physical problem, we go to a doctor.  If you’re having problems with your mental health, go see a mental health doctor.  There is no shame.                                                     therapy gif 1
  3. Media Hiatus-Why does taking a social media break help those with anxiety? Well, recent studies have found that social media has changed peoples lives…and not for the good.  More people have reported feeling worried and/or uncomfortable when media outlets are not accessible.  People panic without their phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The fear of “missing out” on something increases, and, believe it or not, social media is more addictive than cigarettes. Social media prevents individuals from even sleeping!  Those with anxiety are more prone to compare their lives to everyone around them and despair when it is not living up to this fictional picture.  Yes, I say fictional.  Marriage is not always perfect.  Your house, not perfect.  Your life, not perfect.  However, through the lens of social media and picture filters, everyone else looks perfect.  As stated in my previous post as well, this makes a perfectionist’s anxiety go through the roof.  Take a break from social media!  When my anxiety was at it’s highest, I shutdown my Facebook for 40 days.  Woah!  Tough, but as each day went by, it became easier and easier.  I didn’t care about someone liking my post or photos.  My relationship with my husband (at that time fiancé) became closer, and my anxiety slowly lessened as I couldn’t compare my life with those around me or worry about how many likes I may receive.  Although it causes anxiety for some at the beginning, it’s almost a time of rehab and getting a true reality check.   Read more here.                               social media 1 gif
  4. Body–Part of anxiety includes multiple aspects of taking care of your body! So what should you do/try?
    • Exercise–Not only does exercise help you become healthier and stronger, but it also releases endorphins, which triggers positive feelings into the body.
    • Eating Healthy–Eating better helps clear up your skin, keep your mind sharp, and give you energy for the day.  Don’t skip meals, and keep healthy snacks for energy boosts throughout the day.  With anxiety, comes indulging in junk food or “comfort” food, not eating, or eating too much.  Find a food that is healthy and you like.  This is probably one of the hardest aspects of life to change, but it can help you balance and control the anxiety.
    • Sleep–Aim towards 8 hours of sleep each night.  Oh no.  Definitely difficult with anxiety as I stated in my previous post.  So what should you do/try?  Limit screen time before bed and even turn it off completely. Do NOT check social media in the middle of the night.  Again, turn it off.  Have your phone set for only your alarm and emergency calls.  Try a few things before bed like reading, listening to music (I prefer classical or instrumentals), yoga, and breathing techniques.  Set a routine.  We do this to our children, why not yourself?  Set a bedtime and stick to it.  Again, it will be difficult in the beginning, but over the weeks you will see results.
    • Limit caffeine and alcohol–these two can trigger or aggravate anxiety.  Drink more water instead!                                                                                       exercise gif
  5. Medicine–This is always a touchy topic.  Why?  Some people think that medicine shouldn’t be used to treat mental health.  Others don’t want to depend on medicine for the rest of their lives.  Some are simply embarrassed at the idea.  My experience with anxiety medicine–it took the edge off, but I needed the other four tips from above too.  A small pill (with a low dose) did not fix me over night.  The side effects of the medicine did not settle well with my body, and I had to adjust my dosage and type of medicine to combat that issue as well.  For some individuals, medicine helps and gets them to a place where they can fully manage the anxiety.  Others don’t need it.  I am NOT a medical professional.  Speak with your doctor first on this issue.  They will know how to help you in the best way!

 

Will all of these steps heal your anxiety? Probably not.  Can they help? Yes.  Give them a try and see the results.  Worse case scenario, it doesn’t work.  On the other hand, it may just help you and your mental health.

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Continue reading “Anxiety Tips”

Anxiety, Anxious, Career, Graduate Degree, Graduate School, Help Needed, High Functioning Anxiety, Job, Kids, Mental Health, Teach, Teaching, Time Management, Travel Italy

Living with High Functioning Anxiety

Let’s talk about anxiety.  High functioning anxiety.

Why?

  • Women are more likely to experience anxiety.
  • People from North America and Western Europe are more likely to be affected by anxiety.
  • Anxiety affects 18.1% of adults in the U.S.
  • Estimates of 30% of people don’t seek help
  • Around 10% of those with anxiety…seek effective help.

As a teacher and traveler, I find myself battling with anxiety.  No.  I’m not talking about stress and I smack a label on it with anxiety.  I don’t go around telling every individual that I struggle with anxiety.  Sure, I talk about awareness with friends and family, but I don’t use my anxiety as an excuse at work or even at home.

There are so many types of anxiety disorders too: general anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety, etc.

I have High Functioning Anxiety.  So what’s it like?  Truly like? What are triggers?

  1. Restlessness–The brain does NOT shut off.  This is a common symptom for people with anxiety, and women.  Why women?  Well, studies show that a woman’s brain chemistry is different and hormone fluctuations are also linked to anxiety.  Women are more prone to stress, react differently to their life events, and think deeply about stressors.  Bingo.  A person with high functioning anxiety can look calm as a cucumber on the surface, but inside their brain is going a million miles a minute.
  2. Time–I have found that people with anxiety focus on time.  They need to be on time.  They watch that clock. “I’m late!” is a common phrase…even though they arrive 15 minutes early to everything.  Time can be an anxiety trigger.  Being with a group of people that are running late? Anxiety triggered.  Someone else running late which affects a meeting or schedule? Anxiety triggered.          i'm late
  3. Personality Type–Although anxiety hits all types of personalities, I do find it interesting that type A individuals are more likely to be affected by stress-related illnesses.  Type A people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease.  Type A is achievement oriented, high-strung, intense, high individual expectations, and put high demands on themselves.  Can you see this as a recipe for trouble?  However, many personality types have traits and potentials for anxiety.  Read more here: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/10/anxiety-and-personality-type/
  4. Sleep–Those with anxiety struggle with sleep.  Shocker? No.  Yet, you may hear that these people sleep waaaay more than the average person.  Here’s the thing–it’s not solid sleep.  It’s sleep that is riddled with dreams, waking up, and even panic attacks.  That doesn’t sound like a restful sleep to me.  So remember that your anxious friend may not be sleeping through the night and is realistically getting less sleep than you due to constantly waking up or laying in bed without actually falling asleep.                                                                                                                                                              can't sleep
  5. Silent–High functioning anxiety can be hard to detect.  Why? We look just fine and dandy on the outside.  Inside is where we are having an inner monologue that is freaking out.  I have quite a few close friends, a large family, a husband, and positive relationships with my co-workers.  Who can tell when my anxiety hits? My father and sometimes my husband.  It’s not many people. My heart races.  I zone out.  I’m caught in my own thoughts.  I need to be alone.  I feel fatigued, even dizzy.  My brain races. Chest tightens. These anxiety attacks last a few minutes to over an hour.  They feel never ending.  Yet, these symptoms are silent to those around me.  This is the hardest type of anxiety to detect.
  6. Perfectionist–Ah, perfectionism.  Maybe it’s my inner teacher, but this need and want has never left.  Those who struggle with perfectionism find themselves with anxiety at times.  Why?  That stack of papers over there needs to graded or at least filed properly.  Files are color coded.  Everything is labeled with the help of a label maker and in alphabetical order.  There is a specific place for everything. Unrealistic perfectionism can increase anxiety and, interestingly, they enhance one another.  Perfectionism leads to ideas of not being good enough or fearing mistakes. All or nothing thinking increases the anxiety, and most perfectionists see things as absolutes. Perfectionism is a major trigger (and even part of) anxiety. https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/05/the-link-between-perfectionism-and-anxiety/.                    perfect

So what do I do?  I plan to write another blog soon to give some tips on how to handle anxiety.  No, I’m not a psychiatrist or doctor, but I do struggle with anxiety.  Guess what? I also received help by a trained professional.  Getting help was one of the hardest and best things I ever did for my mental health.  Did the anxiety disappear? Absolutely not!  Was I able to handle it better? Yes.

Remember my teacher and traveling friends–take care of YOU.  Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

“The thing about an anxiety disorder is that you know it is stupid. You know with all your heart that it wasn’t a big deal and that it should roll off of you. But that is where the disorder kicks in. Suddenly the small things is very big and it keeps growing in your head, flooding your chest, and trying to escape from under your skin. You know with all of your heart that you’re being ridiculous and you hate every minute of it.”

xoxo

Your Wander

Continue reading “Living with High Functioning Anxiety”

Eating Abroad, Eating in New Countries, Eating in New Country, Eating New Cuisines, European Travels, Food, Help Needed, International Cuisines, International Foods, Italian Vacation, Italy, Questions, Recommendations Needed, Travel, Travel Abroad, Travel Europe, Travel Italy, Travel on a Budget, Traveling

Traveling Italy Questions

As I have stated in previous posts, my husband and I will be traveling to Italy in the summer of 2018.  We are beyond thrilled.  The flight and hotel are booked.  We are staying less than a mile away from the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum.

Since I have started blogging, I’ve noticed lots of traffic from individuals in other countries (even those from Italy).  So, I am asking so kindly for some advice, tips, and help.  Furthermore, I promise to mention your comments and recommendations here once we visit.  I have done much research in the past few months, but I trust locals more than a few ads on the computer.  Sure, I know how to dress in the churches and simple Italian phrases to get me by, but I want to know about the hidden tips, best food places, and what everyone should see on their first trip to Rome.

So…I have 5 days in Italy.  One day for Florence and one day in the Vatican.  The other three days are completely devoted to Rome.  Here are my questions that I’m hoping you as my reader will help me out:

  1. Where are the best places to eat in Rome?  You know…the places the locals actually go and are not filled with tourists.                        tourists
  2. What are the absolute must see sites in Rome (or around) and Florence?       florence
  3. What should every new traveler experience during their Italian getaway?         Rome_animated_intro
  4. Any hidden tips or help when visiting the Vatican?                 St.-Peters-Basilica-Vatican-City
  5. What is something you wish tourists knew and what helps a tourist blend in as much as possible?                                                          tourist gif

 

As always, thank you for your help folks.  Your input helps us all when traveling abroad!

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Eating Abroad, Eating in New Countries, Eating New Cuisines, European Travels, International Cuisines, Paris, Paris in 48 Hours, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel Europe, Travel on a Budget, Traveling

Paris in 48 Hours

Years ago, I had the chance to visit the City of Lights and fell in love.  No, not with a man. I fell in love with the city of Paris.  The culture.  The food.  The history.  The art.  This city had me amazed.  I felt as if I had gone back in time.  I loved eating Nutella Crepes.  I saw the Mona Lisa.  I went as far on top of the Eiffel Tower as they would let me.  I shopped.  I visited Notre Dame Cathedral.  I dined in cafes and drank wine as I watched the people go by.

But I only had a little over 48 hours.  If I could go back in time, I would have set more time for this city and country in general.  France treated me well.

When I arrived in France, I took a tai to my hotel (which had a gorgeous view of the city and right across the street from The Louvre) and spent time checking in.  By the time I had checked in and settled myself, I was left with an evening and two full days in the city.  That night I wandered the streets, got my bearings, and figured out where I needed to go for my little 48 hour period.

So what should you visit if you only have 2 days in the magical city?

  1. Eiffel Tower–this seems like a no brainer but what a sight to see.  Most places in the city can see this monument for miles.  I could see it from my hotel.  I could see it in the air when I flew into Paris.  I could see it from the street.  So, what should you do when you visit it?  Some words of advice: take the elevator if issues with walking or climbing, otherwise use the stairs.  Since one of my traveling companions struggled, we took the elevator to the second floor and went up an additional floor to get a better view with less crowds (the higher you go, the less people you see).  Yes, it does cost money (11-17 Euros), but it’s worth every penny.  Stop in the first floor if possible to experience the see through floor!  No worries, there are restrooms, but make sure you know the hours of operation to enter.  During my time, the very top was under construction.  However, I went as far to the top as allowed.  Breathtaking.  There are no other words.  In the words of Jack Dawson, “I’m on top of the world!”  on top of the world
    img_2677
    I could see the entire city, and that was the moment I truly fell in love with Paris, France.  There were not enough  words other than “I am returning one day.”     Check here for more information: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/smartertravel/18-things-you-need-to-kno_b_9149368.html.
  2. The Louvre–For you art or history fans, this is a must.  I was determined to see the Mona Lisa.  Gosh darn it, I wiggled and elbowed by way to the front of the crowd so I could see the iconic picture up close. Besides the Mona Lisa, I was able to go through floor after floor of historical and modern art.  I had the chance to see Napoleon’s belongings and artifacts.  One thing I highly recommend:  Do a little planning beforehand.  There are 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art on display.  There is no possible way to see everything. When I first arrived, I took a map and figured out which rooms I wanted to visit and which rooms would have to wait until another visit.  I immediately circled what I wanted to see and the floor they were on display.  I highly recommend seeing the following: The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Venus de Milo, The Raft of Medusa, Hammurabi’s Code, The Lamassu, and of course, The Mona Lisa.  While there, you will find some rooms empty while others are filled with hoards of people.  Mapping out your time first hand will help with confusion, eliminating time waste, and making sure you visit some of the most famous art pieces in the world!
  3. Notre Dame Cathedral–History, architecture, and religion. What a wonderful and beautiful sight.  One thing I loved about this place of worship–it was free!  While traveling, I found many churches charged a price to enter and look at the relics, art, or architecture.  Notre Dame de Paris was one of the few places that welcomed visitors and even allowed pictures (no flash though!).  On my second day in France, I had the chance to visit the Cathedral and learn more about it.  It. Is. Crowded.  Just a forewarning.  However, I loved once I was inside.  People were generally quiet.  The area was cooler and more peaceful.  It was nice to be in a less stressful environment.  Outside everyone takes pictures, but inside is more reserved.  When entering the church, men should take off their hats.  Ladies–please wear something appropriate.  This is not a time for midriff and breasts hanging out.  While there, I wore shorts and a tank top and was not turned away.  In Europe, it is more common for women to wear something that covers the shoulders and knees.  Although I did not find this (and people were not turned away), men were asked to take off their hat as a sign of reverence.  Remember, you are in a place or worship, so treat the area with respect.  Yet don’t forget to take pictures and truly look at the phenomenal details.  img_2681
  4. Wander–take the beaten path for a few hours. Above are three places that will easily keep you occupied for 48 hours.  However, I highly recommend spending one afternoon (or morning) shopping and wandering around the area.  While I was near the Eiffel Tower, I saw a small farmer’s market across the area.  Here I was able to talk to the locals and find some neat odds and ends.  I bought scarves and other items to take home with me. I also had the time to wander up and down the streets and look at a few boutiques.  I found one of my favorite dresses in a small boutique, and it always reminds me of Paris now.  At one point, I remember being completely lost (even with a map) down the streets of shopping.  Locals were kind enough to help me get back to my original area.  I found cafes that served scrumptious food (see my previous blog post about eating abroad) and had time to relax a bit.  My time in Paris was an absolute delight, because I was able to see non-touristy areas as well. img_2675

 

So, Paris in 48 hours.  Not enough time, but it is doable!  I loved my time in Paris, and I would return in a heart beat.
“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.” – Thomas Jefferson.
xoxo
Your Wanderer
Career, Graduate Degree, Graduate School, Job, Kids, Love of Teaching, school, Students, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Learning, Teaching and Traveling, Time Management, Traveling

Teacher and also a Student

Last year at this time, I found myself neck deep in work–completing the Ohio residency program, planning a large wedding, and finishing my masters program…all while also working full time.  As I reminisce this chapter of my life, I truly wonder now how I survived.  I had to take every day one step at a time.  I could get ahead in planning with teaching, but my nights were filled with making phone calls to the wedding coordinator and writing paper after paper for graduate school.

Here I am.  A teacher. A student. All at the same time.

So how does one work full time, attend graduate school with max hours allowed, and have a life on top of that?  What are the best and worst things about graduate school?  Are there ways to make it easier?

Let me break down the five most basic questions everyone in this position (or pondering this torture) will encounter at some point.  These are things I wish people would have helped me when I earned my degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

  1. How do I pick a graduate school and major that fits me?  Ask yourself:
    • Do I even want/need to go to school?  Yes. Read on.  No. Read one of my other posts. 😉
    • What am I good at?  What aspect of my undergraduate degree do I want to expand
    • What do I want to improve?
    • Online or Campus?  Let me recommend online as long as you can work basic computer programs.  Best. Decision. Ever.  I loved working in my PJ’s at home on my own time.
    • What can I afford?  In the good ol’ U.S. of A. we sadly have to pay most of our schooling bill.  It’s a sacrifice, but that’s the road to success.  When picking a graduate school, I looked at schools that had my major, provided online options, and would not dig me deeper in a debt ditch or contemplate paying student loans or eating.  student loans
    • Find what works for you.  Figure out what you want.  If you’re spending this money and time for another degree, it needs to meet your needs and wants.
  2. What is the workload like? 
    • Depends on your degree and work ethic.  Generally…it’s a lot. Plain and simple.
    • Can you type quickly or know shortcuts to search for key words to insert in a paper?   Can you use Google?  Sounds silly, but you’d be surprised.  Everything depends on your skills, work ethic, and time management.  For example, reading the entire text book in three days may not be likely (especially if you value your life).  However, I recommend using an online textbook.  Why? Ctrl + F baby.  Looking for a specific word or need information for a research paper. Ctrl + F.  It allows you to find what you need quickly and cut down on some time searching through hundreds of pages.  That’s graduate school.  Yes, you learn, but you have to find ways to eliminate times of waste as well.
    • Word smarter not harder. graduate-meme
  3. Is it possible for those with a family? 
    • Is It possible?   Absolutely.  Single mothers do it.  Parents do it.  Older individuals do it.  Young people with zero money in their pocket do it.
    • Sure, you’ll be busy.  You’ll need to set a specific amount of time each night (or day) to work on school work.  You may need your spouse to take care of the kids for an hour each night.  Maybe it ends up being video game time for the kiddos for that hour or two.  You’ll be exhausted, don’t misunderstand me, but it is possible.                     family and school
  4. What should I expect that no one will tell me upfront?
    • In my situation, the thing NO ONE told me about was the amount of group projects.  Oh….I LOATHE group projects!  hate hate hate                                       As I stated before, I earned my degree in Curriculum and Instruction which involved educators from around the country.  It shocked me how many teachers were lazy.  I felt like I was dealing with my students.  I found myself begging individuals to do some of the group work (as the workload was enormous since it was supposed to be split), and teachers would either not respond at all, put the work load on other individuals, or do 1/4 of the work, while I was left with the other 3/4.  What a pain in the behind. group project Furthermore, I found that professors–you know, the people who are teachers to the teachers, were giving those who did nothing the same grade as those who did all the work.  Sure, I told my professors what happened.  Yes, I explained the situations in the group evaluations.   Didn’t matter.  I only had ONE professor that graded us fairly.  You know…the way we are supposed to grade our own students.  So what’s the point of this rant?  There are things you will absolutely encounter and no one mentions–people are incompetent.  It doesn’t matter which department, which professor or peer…it happens.  The financial aid office “loses” your payment or scholarship aid.  The professor punches in the grades wrong and confuses your 96% for a 69%.  The dean stops reading your emails when you explain you’re not paying the university to edit and fix their technology issues on a daily basis.  Not like any of that has happened to me…                                      rolls eyes                                                          Hang in there folks, the end is worth it.  I promise.
  5. Is it worth it?
    • In the end (and for those of us who have to pay), yes.  Within my first 15 graduate credits, I received a pay bump.  By the end of my masters degree, I was given a more significant pay bump.  Although it may not seem huge right now, in a few years I will be making close to 10k more than those with an undergraduate degree.  Additionally, I will be making more every year as I get closer to that time where the pay gap is larger.  What about more than just the price?  Let’s talk about the fact that I did actually learn things essential to my career.  It helped me become a better teacher.  I learned new methods, technological tools, strategies, research, etc.  I came out of it more educated about my field.  Even with my frustrating time pursuing my graduate degree, I am so happy to have my degree.

Is this time stressful? Yes.

Is this time of stress, tears, frustration, dedication, and sacrifice worth it? Yes.

Learn more.  Better yourself.

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”~ Aristotle

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Eating Abroad, Eating in New Countries, Eating in New Country, Eating New Cuisines, Food, International Cuisines, International Foods, Love of Teaching, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel Europe, Travel NYC, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

Eating Abroad

Eating abroad sounds fun and exotic…except when you have the palate of a 5 year old.  I live off of coffee, donuts, and Mac & Cheese.  My tastes have not changed much since childhood.  Vegetables? Bleck.  Fruit? Eh. Candy? Now you’re talking.

Sure, I’ve had great food.  Other times I questioned why the “pea soup” was red instead of green.  I asked my traveling partners what meat we were consuming and they simply shrugged because they couldn’t identify it either.  On the other hand, I’ve had fresh fruit off the trees that made my mouth water and crepes on the streets of Paris that made me promise to return one day.

However, as a traveler, it’s very difficult to not offend the culture but also eat something you’re not familiar with or even like.  So what should I do?

  1. Know what You’re Ordering.  Ah, the days of Google Translate are here folks and with a touch of a button.  Although Google has been ridiculed at times for it’s accuracy, it is now better and smarter at converting what is needed.  Luckily, there is even an app for that. Download the Google Translate app.  Word of advice: Once you pick the language you will need on your journey, download it so you can use it offline as well.  When I was in Mexico with my husband, we were lucky enough for most menus to be translated into English as well. Not the case when I was in Europe.  Although we used a translation tool, it wasn’t much help.  With the Google translate app not only can you type in your phrases or words, but you can also take a picture as well! If you’re unsure or have dietary restrictions, use a tool to help you figure out what you may need or want.  If you’re feeling adventurous, go for it. Yet for my Vegan, Kosher, Gluten Free, etc. amigos, look up what you’re ordering first to make sure it’s what you need and avoid the added stress.  8890946c-af6e-4a80-9489-c40f6e9b53cf
  2. Grow a Pair and Try New Foods.  “Just try it!” my mother used to say to me over and over again.  Although I hate to admit it, some of my favorite foods are due to simply tasting the food. Pesto sauce–it’s green why would I like it? Tried it. Loved it.  Calamari–that sounds weird no thank you.  Tried it. Delicious.  There are so many foods that I fell in love with because I simply tried the food.  In new countries, it’s always a bit nerve wracking when trying and tasting new foods.  However, I gave myself a strict rule–eat what the locals eat.  If that means eating tacos that may in fact have burned my mouth and I began sweating in my seat and drinking a pitcher of water…hey, I tried it.  Eating locally can also mean getting to know the locals.  Through food I was able to learn more about English customs and what they ate on a daily basis.  So what were some things I tried? France–Escargot.  Germany–Wienerschnitzel and mashed potatoes (oh Mylanta, yum).  England–Chicken Tikka Masala.  Dominican Republic–Goat meat.  I found that items I hated at home were scrumptious abroad.  Sure, I found things I disliked, but I found I had a culturally sound experience through the food.  145a175f-af60-4b14-a57d-e8a7d542da4a
  3. Learn about the Eating Customs.  Sure, we like to think that our proper ways of eating are applicable to all countries.  Nope.  Sure, slurping your food here is not acceptable, but in Japan it is encouraged!  Find what your country customs include so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. As I was researching for my own trip to Rome, I found that drinking cappuccino (or any form of milky coffee) after 10 AM was pretty much a big no-no.  Good to know since I’m in a constant state of drinking coffee!  However, the more you stick out, the more people will know you’re a tourist.  Learning about the eating customs may help save you some embarrassment.  Burping in China? Shows your appreciation of the food.  Thailand–don’t even think about putting your fork in your mouth. Don’t pass food between chopsticks in Japan. South Korea only wants you to eat when the oldest member has begun.  This list continues for various countries.  Even if you were in French club in high school…learn the customs.  3d819b79-b3b5-4b34-9b66-68e579551608
  4. Research Beforehand.  If you are traveling to a country and unsure of the foods do some research ahead of time.  For instance, my husband and I are going to Italy in the summer.  Although I am an avid fan of Italian dishes, I began looking up what items I may like or things that will be new to my palate. With the ease of modern technology, we can easily find simple food items that we like, want to try, or meet our dietary needs/restrictions.  Not sure about a restaurant? TripAdvisor will give you tons of information about what is available, pricing, and reviews.  Sure, we like to think that we can find something the same, but in reality, we are out of our comfort zone.  Do a little research before your trip to find what you want, restaurants to try, and cuisines to blend in with the locals.

    img_2612
    Bakery in London
  5. K.I.S.S.  When in doubt, keep your ordering to something simple.  Do not be “that person” who orders tons on the menu to only find you hate it and waste platefuls of food.  You like chicken–look for a plate that offers chicken.  You like sweets, check out a local bakery.  Tea time in London? Try a cup–trust me, it’s way better in England.  No wonder they have a specific time of the day designated for it.  Try new things, but keep it simple and your expectations realistic.  If you have a sensitive palate (or an immature one like me), keep your eating simple and you can gradually work your way up. img_2615

 

You may not like the food.  You may love it.  You won’t know until you try.

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” ~Clifton Fadiman

Talk soon folks!

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Day in New York City, Love of Teaching, New York City, NYC in 24 hours, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel NYC, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

NYC in 24 hours

Have a day in NYC but not sure how to spend your time wisely? It’s true that the city that never sleeps is full of activity, people, and places to see. It’s hard to visit every aspect of NYC, especially in an area full of traffic and humans.

So what should I cover in a 24 hour time frame?

Here are 5 tips to make sure you get the most out of your NYC experience.

  1. Invest in Big Bus Tours (https://www.bigbustours.com).  Get to your main destinations by hopping on and off at their designated bus stops.  Yes, you’ll look like a tourist, but you need to get to your destinations easily and quickly.   I’ll be completely honest–this was a fabulous investment.  One I will use in future cities as well (the company extends to Europe, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific).  Although when I used this pass it was a snow storm and freezing, I loved that the company offered a map of the city and free headphones to listen to a guide explain each landmark and famous area.  Big Bus Tours gets you all over the city at a fraction of the cost of a taxi cab.  Tickets also offer options to Liberty Island and/or Empire State Building. Big Bus Tours
  2. See a Show.  If time permits, see a show on Broadway.  There is nothing like it in the rest of the world.  I have seen multiple shows on Broadway over various visits to the town.  Picking a matinee show allows you time to see a play and then follow it up with dinner and more sightseeing.  However, a later show allows you to do all of your sightseeing first and gives you some rest off your feet.  Tickets may be costly depending on your Broadway taste, but it is worth every penny.  212f1ebc-f6ce-4a3e-b878-def435d5da65
  3. China Town and Little Italy.  If you have never experienced this world in NYC, it is an absolute must.  You can find purses, clothing, and knick knacks for a small price, and bartering with the locals is always a fun experience.  If you are offered a price always offer something lower.  If an individual refuses, simply walk away.  99% of the time, the person will follow you out the store (and sometimes down the street) to make the sale with you.  Additionally, Little Italy has some fun restaurants with tasty food to give you some energy during your time.  In fact, it has the BEST cappuccino I have ever tasted in the Western Hemisphere.
  4. Times Square.  Talk about the hustle and bustle.  This is the area with the brightly lit signs.  You see individuals from all over the world trying to get a sneak peak of something new or a celebrity spotting.  In this area, you can visit M&M’s World, a giant Toys R Us, a two story Disney Store, and every other shopping place imaginable.  Yes, it’s crowded.  For some, overwhelming.  Yet, this is a well worth area to visit, find a place to eat, and get some great people watching time. 025e2fad-9fc4-429f-a460-1cfaa091abec
  5. Pick One Must See Destination.  Is it the statue of Liberty? Central Park? 911 Memorial Museum? Empire State Building?  Pick the one thing you absolutely want to see.  Those other areas are fun to see and easy to get to using Big Bus Tours.  Even with hopping on and off a bus, I walked close to 10 miles in my 24 hour period (Hint: use a good pair of walking shoes).  However, my must see recommendation is the 911 Memorial Museum.  I would absolutely suggest this for anyone who remembers the event and holds that time close to their hearts.  This museum is not particularly geared for kids, and the museum is generally somber and filled with silent sobs in specific areas.  It allows you to listen to telephone calls from those on the airplanes, see remnants from the crash and buildings, and view the history of the 911 plan.  If visiting, go straight in the morning when the memorial opens.  This avoids long lines and crowds of people. Whatever you pick, make sure you set time to see your destination.  Traffic is terrible and takes time to get anywhere.  With the right amount of planning and using specific routes, one can see multiple things in a short period of time! e29d6256-2915-4764-a811-0d6ca75ea71a

 

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
Tom Wolfe

Follow on Instagram @TeachingTraveling

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Love of Teaching, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel Europe, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

Travel on a Teacher’s Salary

I have traveled since I was young.  Traveling is in my blood.  Loving it is an understatement.

Do I love airplanes?  Not particularly.  How about long road trips? Eh, not really.

Yet once I’m there, I am in love.  I have been to every state on the east coast, covered most of the midwest, and multiple states on the west coast.  I was lucky enough to have a parent that encouraged traveling, immersing in culture, and trying new foods, places, and customs.  I have had the travel bug for as long as I can remember.

Yet, here I am.  Teaching.  Adulting.  How can I afford to visit different places around the world on my little teacher salary?  Sure, when I was living with my folks I had the chance to go to Germany, France, Canada, England, and over half of the U.S.  But now?  How can I do it now?

It’s not easy.  Plain and simple.

It takes planning, budgeting, and LOTS of research.  So where have I been since I left the nest and entered the working world?  Over the past few years I have visited:

  • New York City, NY
  • North Carolina (multiple times and locations)
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Ocean City, NJ
  • Mexico
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Las Vegas, NV (almost every year at this rate)

What’s next you may ask?  Italy.  Booked and Paid.

So, let’s get a few things straight–I am not making millions at teaching.  Sure, I sell things on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I’m not making a salary off of it.  During my first year of teaching, I made a whopping $23K.  Yup.  After moving districts I was able to increase that salary, but it’s not raining money in my household.

So how do I do it?

  1. Set a certain amount/percentage to be taken out of your paycheck per pay to put towards travel.  This may be $20; it may be $100, but it’s training your mind and willpower to save the money.  For me, I had to transfer this money to an entirely separate bank account that I could not easily access.  Over the course of a year, you will have enough money saved to take you somewhere awesome.
  2. Look at companies like Groupon, Funjet, Kayak, and even Orbitz.  These places allow for vacation packages–flight and hotel.  Conveniently, these places also give you the option to look at reviews, proximity to local food joints, and even distance to the nearest airport/train station.  Websites like Groupon allow you to get great deals on awesome vacation packages; just make sure you read the fine print.  If you’re not around a major city, you can have your flight altered for a fee.  Talk to a representative for more information. Mexico Beach
  3. Research. Research. Research.  When my husband and I planned our Italian Getaway, we were immediately taken aback by the outrageous prices per person.  I put my head in my hands and wondered if I was ever going to return to Europe.  We spent days researching, browsing websites, and looking at prices.  My husband soon realized that a very expensive week was followed by an insanely cheap week through Orbitz.  After searching week by week from May to August, we found the perfect week that allowed us 5 days and nights in Italy in a 4.2 star hotel with flight for $700 per person.  Woah!  It was insane.  We booked it immediately.  Look for trends in prices, seasons, and even flash deals on the websites listed above.
  4. Sign up for offers through hotels.  Sounds crazy and will fill your email box with junk mail?  I’ll be honest–yes.  Yet there always seems to be a gold nugget hiding in the list of unopened emails.  During my first visit to Las Vegas, I went through an offer to stay at the Wynn Hotel for free!  Once I went to Vegas and signed up at multiple hotels, those rewards and offers continued.  Through this, I was able to see Fabulous Las Vegas multiple times in the course of a few short years, because I only had to pay for airfare and food.  img_2572
  5. Network.  Staying in contact with friends and traveling with a buddy has allowed me to visit new places for a fraction of the cost.  I visited NJ, NC, CA, NYC, and PA because of friends chipping in together.  We slept in the same small bed, but we didn’t care.  We were able to see a new city for $50-$100.  On the other hand, having friends and family in different parts of the country also allowed for new traveling experiences.
  6. Air BnB.  When I was in San Francisco, I had my first experience with Air BnB.  Although it was different from staying in a nice hotel, it was well worth the money for a few nights of sleep.  The host was kind and provided a clean place to sleep with a private bathroom.  Quite honestly, my husband and I never saw our host, and we were in and out so often that the room was a quick place for us to catch up on sleep and off we went again.  It was half the price of a hotel in the city, and we were able to walk to various restaurants and shopping.  To get into the city, we needed an Uber but it was close enough that it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
  7. Exercise and Plan to Walk!  As a traveler, I have found that taxis and transportation are easily where the money goes down the tubes.  Vegas–walked everywhere.  I was averaging 15 miles of walking per day and only took a cab at the very end of the night when my feet could no longer handle it.  London–walked.  Paris–oh good lord, I walked everywhere.  If you’re in a city that you can easily walk around and get to point B from point A, get on a good pair of shoes and walk.  Burn off those wine and chocolate calories through the city if you can.
  8. Transportation Options.  So what if I can’t physically walk for huge amounts of time or my hotel/room is too far away?  How do I find a cheap flight? Here are some options:
    • Bus--How did I get to NYC? Bus.  I took a bus overnight there and back.  Sure I didn’t get the most restful sleep of my life, but it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than a hotel.  Just invest in some coffee when you arrive in your desired city.  Bus transportation also is a great option in bigger cities to avoid outrageous cab costs.
    • Train–Although trains are available in the U.S., it is generally as long as driving and not always as cheap as one dreams.  However, in Europe, not only was this an affordable option, but it allowed me time to relax and take in the scenery that I otherwise would have never seen.
    • Airline Promos--Look at flights on Wow Air or Skiplagged.  These places offer affordable flights in specific time windows or find loopholes in the airfare pricing to give you the best deals.
    • Flight and Hotel Packages–Want to have your flight paired with your housing for the week?  Check out vacation packages on a multitude of websites.  Personally, I have found amazing packages through Groupon, Funjet, and Orbitz.  Not only does it help eliminate costs, but it also helps eliminate the headache of planning every detail.
    • Uber/Lyft–In a big city and the distance is too far to walk?  I have been in this situation before.  Uber and Lyft offer options much cheaper than a taxi or renting a car and generally give you the cost up front.  The drivers are usually friendly, and when splitting the cost with friends, it is the way to go with transportation. Germany train station**Train station from France to Germany**
  9. Make side Money.  As teachers specifically, we have options to do tutoring on the side, sell items on Teachers Pay Teachers, or even begin tutoring kids from other countries via Skype.  I do not make tons of money off of Teachers Pay Teachers, but a few bucks here and there do add up.  Additionally, I tutor two nights a week which equals roughly $60/week.  Even a small amount like that can easily be added to your travel fund over the course of 9 months.  Lastly, I have seen many positive reviews about VPKID–flexible tutoring schedule all from the comfort of your home. We don’t see the $20 here or the $40 here as a big deal, but when we don’t touch that money and save it, we end up with a vacation during the summer.
  10. Little bit of Luck.  It’s true.  Part of traveling is luck.  You find a great deal on a hotel or flight.  You find a friend that lives in the area and crash with them for a few days.  You travel with friends who also have that travel bug to split the costs and see the same attractions for a fraction of the cost.  Part of traveling is planning and budgeting, but another part will always be luck.

Traveling is one of the best adventures and memories one can make.  There is a wide world out there.  Get out there and see it.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Augustine of Hippo

Make sure to also visit me on Instagram @TeachingTraveling.

Talk Soon Folks!

xoxo

Your Wanderer