Let me start off by telling you that this is not a post with specific advice, I’m not going to tell you how to deal with coming out of a global pandemic. However, I am going to give you some insights into how different people are dealing with it, which can hopefully help you and make you feel more comfortable as well. I hope this post makes you realize that, however you feel right now, there’s no pressure to be doing anything, at all.
Now that more and more people are getting vaccinated all over the world, we can slowly see our daily life returning to the way to the way it used to be. Or at least, a new ‘normal’. We suddenly do not have to wear face masks in public anymore, restaurants and clubs are opening up, we are allowed to travel abroad, and many employers are encouraging their employees to start coming to the office again. As exciting as these changes may sound, it can also be quite overwhelming. Some might feel like they are not ready to go out again, some might feel pressured to go out when they see all their friends hanging out again, and some simply don’t feel the need to be going out and be social again at all. When you relate to (some of) these feelings, you might also think that, by staying in, you’re isolating yourself and that there is something wrong with you for not wanting to be social. Well, let me tell you, your feelings are valid. Whether you spend every single day making plans and hanging out with friends or family, or whether you prefer to stay in and spend time by yourself like you have been doing the past year(s)- there is nothing wrong with that!
In this new era of digital media and social comparison, it is easier than ever to feel like you’re falling behind on your social life. It is kind of like indirect peer pressure. No one is telling you that you have to go out, but you still want to. Why? Because everyone else seems to be doing it and you don’t want to seem like a loser, right?
So, here are five situations you might relate to but feel unsure about. Which ever situation you relate to, they are totally understandable. It’s okay when…
You were never really an outgoing person before the pandemic, and you now feel pressured to go out of your comfort-zone and start going out more.
You were going through a hard time during the many lockdowns and you feel relieved to be social again, so you take every opportunity you can to meet up with friends.
You used to be an outgoing person before the pandemic, but the lockdowns taught you that it is okay to spend some time by yourself, and now you’re actually fine with not going out as much.
You were never really an outgoing person before the pandemic, but the lockdowns made you realize that you do crave certain social interactions, so you’re looking for (new) friends to hang out with now.
You used to go out a lot before the pandemic even when you didn’t feel like it, and now you’ve decided that you really only want to go out when you want to and feel like it.
One thing I frequently hear is that 2020 (and a part of 2021) has helped many people with getting to know themselves. Some realize that they are a complete mess when they have to spend more than a day without seeing anyone but themselves, and some realize that they actually like the peace and quiet. The thing is, even when you’re taking online classes or working from home, you still spend a great amount of time in your own head. You start re-thinking your relationships, you evaluate your past and present and start dreaming of the future, you criticize yourself and your (unhealthy) habits, and you learn things about yourself that you never knew before (for instance, you turn out to be a great painter or writer). So, coming out of a global pandemic, how do you move forward with this new knowledge about yourself?
It’s definitely scary. But, ever since things started opening up again in the Netherlands, I noticed one thing that I really liked. Whether it’s in the supermarket, in a shopping centre or at school, it’s obvious that almost everyone has been putting some extra effort in their appearance. In fact, I’ve barely seen students in sweatpants and hoodies; and there was a time when that seemed to be the only ‘appropriate’ college outfit. You can tell that people feel grateful for being able to go out again, and they appreciate the hell out of it by wearing that one outfit they were never too sure about, or by going for that bold make-up look. Or, something that I can personally relate to, I can see some people who have chosen to go natural. They’ve spent so much time by themselves in their natural look that they’ve grown to be comfortable with it. Going natural can mean different things to different people. For me it meant growing out my natural curls and not straightening it at all anymore, not even when I’m going out. For others, it could mean wearing less make-up or not wearing body-enhancing underwear. People realized that they’ve been doing so much just to be liked by others. Whether that is wearing or not wearing make-up, wearing or not wearing that one outfit, straightening or not straightening our hair- we’ve all been changing ourselves because we think we’re liked better in a certain way. But now, we’ve realized that it really doesn’t matter if others like us, the only thing that matters is if we like ourselves. This topic might seem to come out of nowhere, but it matters because it’s part of how we developed ourselves during the pandemic, and how we maintain these developments moving forward.
So, what’s the takeaway of all this? However you feel about things opening up again, it’s okay. I’m not going to tell you to take it slow, I’m just going to tell you to do things at your own pace. Don’t let others (indirectly) pressure you into going out when you’re not ready for it; but also, don’t make others feel bad when they prefer to stay in while you want to go out.
As some of you know, three years ago I decided to move to New York where I worked as a marketing intern at Only Hearts, located in the Garment District, Manhattan. For many, moving to New York City sounds like a ‘dream come true’, and let’s be real, it is. I had the most amazing experience there and it was incredibly hard to leave that life behind. But, even though I had been to the city before, there are a number of things I wish I had known before I came to New York for a longer time. Keep reading to find out more! Please note that the points below are all based on my own knowledge, experiences and opinion. This is not a sponsored post.*
1. Understanding the Subway system
These days, every big city has a subway system. It is often considered one of the fastest, cheapest and most efficient ways of getting around. You’ll most likely find a subway station around every corner in New York, so it’s no surprise that the subway is the most popular public transport method in the city.
If you’re staying in New York for a week or perhaps only a weekend, you might be fine with blindly following the instructions on Google Maps; but when you’re planning to stay for a longer time, I would recommend you to really try and understand how the New York subway system works. In fact, when you’re not actual from the States, it might be essential to spend some time studying the system. Uptown? Downtown? Staten Island-Bound? Queens-bound? And what’s the difference between all the letters and numbers on the map?
If you’re getting overwhelmed by as much as looking at the NYC subway map (totally understandable), you should consider studying the map before your departure to the city. Or, at least make sure you know where the five boroughs (Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island) are located. This will help you understand in which direction a train is going when it says “Bronx-Bound” or “Queens-Bound”.
Tip: Don’t just focus on how to get to the locations you’re planning to visit. Make sure you know how to get around if a subway falls out and/or if you need to take the bus.
Tourist tip: Yes, taking the Subway is often faster but you don’t get to see much of the city when you’re traveling underground all the time. Planning to visit Staten Island? You should consider taking the (free) Staten Island Ferry. It is a fun experience and you get to see the Statue of Liberty! Many people enjoy walking over the Brooklyn Bridge on their way to visit Brooklyn, and then take the bus/subway back to Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most popular tourist spots in NYC and a great setting for the perfect “Look! I’m in New York!”- Instagram photo.
Uptown vs. Downtown
NYC subways often use words such as “uptown” and “downtown” to indicate the direction of a train, rather than “north” or “west”. This can be quite confusing for (European) tourists, as “downtown” is often associated with the center of a city. When I found out what it meant, it was like a new world opened up for me (for real though, everything started making so much sense). I suddenly knew exactly where every train would be going, simply by studying the map below.
Tip: Take into account that some trains might run on different lines and/or times on the weekends. The subway operates 24 hours a day, but not all lines operate on all times. Also make sure to stay up-to-date with planned service changes on certain lines.
2. do you really need your daily Starbucks?
Many people try to live up to the “American aesthetic” and walk into every single Starbucks to see, because 1. it’s familiar, and 2. they do it for the Gram! Everyone is so familiar with the brand, and we’re all willing to pay $5 for a small (tall) cappuccino. Alright, sure, the coffee is good- but is it worth it?
Especially when your life pretty much depends on coffee and you’re planning to stay in the city for a longer time, you might want to look for ‘cheaper’ alternatives. Because, believe me, daily $5 cappuccinos really add up. Lucky for us, the city is filled with small coffee shops and coffee to-go carts where you can get coffee that is just as good and sometimes even better (!), and in most cases way cheaper. Just for the sake of getting the ‘full NYC experience’, try getting out of your comfort zone and walk into that coffee shop you’ve never heard of before; you’ll be surprised! Tip: Gregory’s Coffee was my favorite! Okay, truth be told, Gregory’s Coffee is not much cheaper than Starbucks. However, I personally preferred the quality and it shows how many Starbucks alternatives are out there.
Other great alternative coffee shops in the city are Culture Espresso, Little Collins, REX, and Hi-Collar. For more outstanding coffee shops in the city, check this out! But of course, if you just really like Starbucks- keep doing you!
Tip: If you’re looking for more than just coffee (it’s New York after all…), there’s a cute barista guy working at the Starbucks on 34th St-Herald Sq!
3. price differences
This one might apply more to short-stay tourists than people who’re staying for a longer time, assuming you won’t be hanging out around Times Square every single day, but it’s still a great piece of advice to keep in mind. Alright, it’s quite predictable but also easy to forget in the moment: everything is more expensive at tourist spots. Whether it’s a meal at McDonalds, a t-shirt from H&M, a Statue of Liberty souvenir or even a simple coffee; keep in mind that you will definitely be spending a few dollars extra at stores at or around Times Square, compared to, for example, the Lower East Side. So, if you’re not in a rush, you might want to avoid buying non-essentials at tourist locations.
If you’re living in Manhattan, groceries might be tricky. There is no Walmart to be seen, and every Target and Duane Reade seems to be packed with tourists. Don’t be afraid to go out of your way and find a Whole Foods Market or another grocery store, because there are plenty of them in the city! Click here for Yelp’s Top 10 Best Grocery Stores in Manhattan.
4. Asking for help
Whether you’re in New York for a short trip or a few months, there will undoubtedly be a moment where you’ll have to ask someone for help. As the city is probably filled with tourists, finding a local can be quite the challenge.
Speaking from my own experience, you should probably stay away from business people (women or men in suits) on the streets. They’re often in a rush and will most likely give you a short, sometimes even rude, answer. Also make sure the person you’re about to approach is not on the phone. It’s going to seem like all the locals in NYC are on the phone- all. the. time. They’ll have their bluetooth’s, earphones or AirPods in and start talking out of nowhere.
The best place to approach locals for help is on the subway / at the subway station, as this is where most people are waiting and probably don’t have anything better to do. Also, it is often the young adults and elderly who don’t mind helping (lost) tourists.
Tip: When asking for help or directions, try to be as clear and specific as possible. New Yorkers are often willing to help you, but asking “do you know how I can get to that super tall building near the park?” is not going to get you any happy responses.
5. taking the taxi
Let me start by saying that I will gladly choose the subway, bus or walk to my destination over anything. But in some cases you just don’t feel like it. Maybe it’s freezing cold outside and you need to get somewhere just out of the city; or maybe it’s raining, the subway station is a few blocks away and you forgot your umbrella. In these cases, you should probably take a taxi, UBER, or Lyft. No, it’s not the cheapest and probably not the fastest option, but really, don’t torture yourself!
During my stay in New York, I had never taken a taxi because I simply didn’t need it. I always used Google Maps and found my way to any destination without much trouble. Then my parents came to visit in November, and my mom hurt her knee quite badly. She literally couldn’t walk anymore and my parents only had a few days left before their flight back. We took her to an emergency clinic and it turned out she was going to need surgery very soon. She chose to get the surgery back in the Netherlands; so for the time being, she got lots of painkillers and we got her crutches.
She couldn’t walk up and down the subway station stairs anymore but we still wanted to get around in the city (it was Thanksgiving & Black Friday, duh!); so we figured out how to get an Uber. We used Uber to get to all our dinner plans for Thanksgiving and we visited the Queens Mall on Black Friday. After my parents left, I never stopped using Uber. I used it to get groceries or to visit a family member, or I used it to get to the subway station instead of waiting for the bus in the rain. It made my life SO much easier.
Tip: Unless you’re loaded, you should probably avoid taking an Uber betweenboroughs (e.g., from Queens to Manhattan, Manhattan to Brooklyn, etc.). This can get pretty expensive as the driver will most likely have to pass toll-roads, tunnels or bridges + traffic on NYC highways and parkways can be crazy when you happen to be traveling at an unfortunate time.
If you’re staying in the city for a longer time, it might get overwhelming at one point. There’s always something going on, everywhere. There’s never a moment of silence. Locals (and tourists) love it, but they also know that you have to get out of the city from time to time. Fortunately, New York offers lots of getaway places to get away from the crowd. If you find yourself overwhelmed, try visiting some of my favorite locations:
Roosevelt Island. I visited Roosevelt Island with the cable way, but you can also get there with the subway (it’s just a less appealing view…). Roosevelt Island is located between Manhattan and Queens even though it’s a popular tourist spot, I’ve never seen it quite crowded. Plus, it’s a nice change of scenery. You can basically look into Manhattan, from the outside, and it’s pretty amazing.
Staten Island. Many people go to Staten Island to experience a trip on the infamous orange ferry, and then they wait for the next ferry back. My tip is to actually get out of the port and go for a walk around Staten Island, it’s a very calming environment and a great spot for photos.
Brooklyn. Dumbo is one of the most popular neighborhoods in NYC, located in Brooklyn. For this reason, many people don’t bother walking around more and discovering the beautiful borough that is Brooklyn. The streets are quiet and beautiful and really scream “New York City” without well, the loud noises of the city. Make sure to enjoy the view at the Brooklyn Bridge park as well!
So, those were the 6 main things I wish I had known before I moved to the city. Of course, there are many more things that I only discovered during my stay; but then again, that’s exactly the beauty of moving to a new city. What’s the fun of doing something when you already know what will happen? Keep an open mind, let new things come to you and let yourself be surprised. Learn new things. Create new memories. Yeah, you will probably feel like a whole different person, New York will do that to you- and that’s okay. Enjoy every single moment.
Good morning! I hope you’re all doing well and staying healthy; both physically and mentally.
Looking back at 2020, I think it is safe to say that this was the most challenging year many of us have ever been through. Some lost their jobs, some are still fearing for their job, some couldn’t graduate on time, some lost a loved one and couldn’t say goodbye, some are having trouble dealing with a full house at all times, and some are experiencing a terrible loneliness. All we could do was sit at home, find ways to keep ourselves sane and hope that 2021 would be better and more promising. But, through all the stress, anxiety and worrying the past year has caused us, we tend to forget about the positive aspects; because we also learned a lot. We learned how to be alone without being lonely (and some are still learning, and that’s totally OK!); we learned to be more creative in order to keep ourselves busy, to keep in touch with loved ones or to keep our businesses standing; and perhaps the most important lesson of all: we learned to listen to ourselves, our needs and wants, and we started spending more time on self care and researching mental health. We got to know ourselves better on a physical and mental level, and that might be one of the most positive things 2020 taught us.
And then, as if things weren’t hard enough already, several more infectious mutations of the coronavirus made their entrance and resulted in new lockdowns in many countries worldwide. This second (and in some countries third!) lockdown feels harder than ever, and at this point we’re very close to giving up on all our plans for 2021 as well. However, I’m definitely not thinking that all hope is lost for this year as well. In fact, I’m still quite hopeful. I mean, we didn’t expect to just leave COVID-19 behind in the past year just like we did with our toxic friends and bad habits, right? If only it were that easy…
The new year started off with fresh hope and positivity: the vaccines. Even though there is still a lot of controversy surrounding the vaccines, at this point they are one of the few things that could help us get our normal lives back faster. The other thing? That would be us listening to our government’s restrictions by staying home as much as we can, wearing our face masks and avoiding unnecessary social meetings.
And now, the reason why you’re really here: how the hell are you going to survive another lockdown?!
1. Accept the situation
Okay, yes, we were all hoping that 2021 would be a better and more promising year for all of us. Now we’re approaching February and things didn’t get as good as we had hoped yet, making it hard to keep up that optimism. I am not going to tell you that everything is going to be okay (which it eventually will) because we all know that’s not making anything better. Instead, I am going to tell you to sit back or lay down, take three deep breaths, and realize that you as an individual cannot change this uncertain and scary situation. The entire world is fighting against this pandemic and we are all struggling, some more than others but that definitely doesn’t make your struggles any less serious.
You can spend hours, days, weeks or even months worrying about the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, overcrowded hospitals, people protesting against the restrictions and much more. But is your worrying going to improve the situation? If anything, you’ll only end up feeling worse and more anxious and the situation will not have changed a single thing. In conclusion: try to accept the situation you’re in. Tempted to check the latest news every other hour? Try turning off notifications for news apps or social media notifications and limit your time to check up on news to one hour day, let’s say between 3PM and 4PM. This gives you enough time to catch up on anything you missed in your country and/or around the world and after that, you can tell yourself it’s time to focus on other things now.
Also important: Your feelings and emotions are extremely valid and you should acknowledge them. It is totally okay to feel sad, anxious, mad, confused or depressed. Accept the current situation we’re in, but also accept the way you’re feeling.
2. Stay in Touch
We all know that the best thing to do right now is stay at home and physically isolate ourselves from the outside world. This makes it tempting to isolate ourselves altogether, as you don’t see your colleagues, friends or family as often as you used to. During the first lockdown, many people decided to focus on themselves and get their sh*t together while (often unconsciously) ‘abandoning their loved ones’ for a little while. This isolating behavior is more common than you might think, among all generations.
Sometimes you just want to stay away from your electronic devices and spend the day watching your favorite TV show, going for a walk in nature, reading that book you haven’t touched since you bought it or finally pick up a brush and start painting again; and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, I encourage you to do all that! Be creative, find a new hobby, learn a new skill, explore your neighborhood, you should! But this does not mean you don’t need any social interactions at all, because you do.
If you are one of these people who tend to isolate often or if you know someone who is, you know better than anyone how easy it is to assume that “they don’t check up on me so they don’t like me” or “he hasn’t replied to my text in days, maybe he’s mad at me?”. Instead of assuming, tell yourself to ‘be the bigger person’ and communicate. Double-text them, make that phone call, visit that someone, start the conversation again, it will be appreciated because god knows we all need to have that someone in our lives right now. Now more than ever, we all need someone to share our thoughts and feelings with. Whereas last year we simply would’ve gone for a cup of coffee, brunch or dinner to catch up with someone; right now a (video) call or text will have to do.
TIP: Show your genuine interest and ask deeper, more meaningful questions.
Also important: We’re humans, and we judge, a lot. Sometimes we’re aware of our judgmental behaviour, and sometimes we’re not. Either way, that’s okay. But now that we’re all living in uncertainty with lots of extra time on our hands, it is even more tempting to find out how other people are coping. But here’s the thing, try not to judge someone on their social media activity! By now you must know that people always share their successes, achievements and good times, never failures and bad times. Maybe that one friend who keeps sharing her new recipes, paintings, yoga tricks and WFH-tips on her Instagram-story is struggling with loneliness, staying awake all night worrying about her uncertain future while being triggered by dark, scary thoughts. At the same time, you’re making yourself feel bad because she’s oh-so-active and seems to be handling it all so well. No, this does not mean you should be DM’ing your entire following-list to make sure they’re all doing okay (unless you want to, that’s fine too, I guess), just make sure to never assume anything based on what you see on social media.
3. Find Structure and A Routine
Now that we’re all working or studying from home, it’s hard to keep your professional, academic and personal lives separate. We’re replying to work emails while walking around in PJ’s, we’re attending online classes while still laying in bed…We’re waking up later, going to bed later, and basically we’re doing everything we couldn’t dream of doing before COVID-19. For the first few weeks, this was all okay and sometimes it was even fun! But now that we’re heading into another lockdown, you can feel the lack of structure and a routine taking a toll on your mental health.
This is why I advise you to plan your days or week ahead and create some structure for yourself. For instance, free up some time on a Sunday afternoon to sit with your agenda and your to-do list. What are you going to do next week, and when? Also don’t forget to schedule in some time for yourselves, which can be as easy as a 15-minute walk around the block or a long, hot bath with candles and a glass of wine (preferably on a Friday, in case the wine-drinking gets out of hand and you end up waking up with a terrible headache….).
Why is structure so important? You see, if you wake up at irregular times every single morning with no routine or planning for the day ahead, your mind gets confused and you automatically start feeling unproductive and unmotivated. Both of which you probably cannot use right now, as following online classes or meetings are hard enough as they are already. Structure is also important because it gives us a kind of certainty, something we’ve been craving for nearly a year now. No, we still don’t know how long this pandemic will last and we still cannot plan our plans for spring break or the summer. In fact, we don’t even know if we’ll be able to spend the Holidays this December with our entire family again. Lots of uncertainties, so if we can successfully create a certainty for the following week, it can only do us good. Let’s focus on the present and the short-term future right now, the long-term future is yet to be decided and that is okay.
4. Spend Your Free Time Wisely
Nearly one year ago, out-of-nowhere, we stopped waking up early to get ready for work, school or other responsibilities. From that moment on, all we had to do is look appropriate enough for a Teams or ZOOM meetings that only take up a few hours of your day.
We lost the everyday routine that we were so used to and we’re not sure what to do instead. You’re aware that you have more free time than ever, yet we still tend to do the things we’re comfortable with (A.K.A. Netflix! All! Day! Long!). We know it’s not healthy and we know we can do better, but we don’t. We’re getting lazy! But why not use all this free time to do the things you never had the time to do?
What worked for me was finding a new hobby and picking up two other hobbies that I didn’t have the time for anymore. The new hobby I turned out to love a lot is painting. On Instagram, I saw a few of my friends who picked up painting and they all seemed to be incredibly talented; or was it just really easy? I decided to try it out for myself I ended up loving it. For me, it was more about the relaxation and calmness it brings to my mind. I don’t really care too much about the results, I just love putting all my thoughts and energy into creating something. From that moment on, I started painting a few times a week.
The two hobbies I picked up again were learning Spanish and reading romantic comedy novels. Ever since I came back from Spain, I didn’t have anyone to speak Spanish with anymore. I went back to speaking Dutch all the time and almost entirely forgot my Spanish knowledge. Then, a few months ago, my Spanish cousin called me and I realized how much I was struggling to understand her. This shocked me because I used to perfectly be able to communicate with her when I visited her in Spain. This made me want to start learning again, I started listening to Spanish podcasts at night, analyzing the lyrics of my favorite Spanish songs and I even started talking to myself, in Spanish! It’s been working great so far.
Other hobbies, skills or activities to keep yourself active and productive could be writing (blogs, novels, poems, etc.), playing an instrument, yoga, drawing, following an online course, etc.
Why is it so important to fill your free time with activities rather than watching Netflix all day? Because when you do, you get this feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day; and that feeling of accomplishment is much needed now that we are not physically going to the office or school anymore.
5. Get Outside & Keep Moving!
Many countries have closed their gyms during lockdown, and if the gyms in your country are open you might still hesitate to go (totally understandable!). However, it is still important to keep moving. When we work from home or follow classes from the comfort of our warm and cozy beds, it is incredibly tempting to stay in all day and not get any fresh air at all. You might consider going outside for your weekly (or every-other-day) trip to the grocery store to be enough, but it simply is not. Aside from not getting enough fresh air, we tend to eat more now that we spend more time at home. Another reason to get some exercise! A daily 20-minute walk or run will suffice, as long as you get yourself out there. In addition to the walk outside, you can opt for at-home workouts (yoga, pilates, muscle training, etc.). Whatever you choose, make sure to keep moving!
When you live in a crowded city or if you have a busy lifestyle (despite WFH), you’re more likely to get stressed, neglect your (mental) health and get a burn-out. To avoid this, try implementing simple selfcare methods in your everyday routine, such as a no-phone walk outside.
TIP: Consider a weekly walk in nature to calm the mind and gather your thoughts (which means no phone, no music, just you and your mind!). You might not think you need it; but before you judge, try it first. Really. You’re going to love it.
I hope these tips and little bits of advice have given you more inspiration and motivation for another lockdown. It’s an incredibly weird and uncertain time and we’re all trying to make our way through, you’re definitely not alone in this. If you do need someone to talk to, someone to give you advice or simply someone who wants to listen to you, feel free to send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact me on any of my social media profiles.
First off, I hope that you’re well, staying inside and making the best out of this bizarre situation. Please remember to stay positive, even if your life seems to be falling apart right now or if you simply feel lost or desperate. This too, will pass.
The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands. – Sir Richard Burton
It has been a while (more than a year ago, to be exact) since I posted my last blog. I thought that my busy, chaotic lifestyle back then did not leave room for my favorite hobby anymore. Well, a year (and many new experiences and memories) later I’m realizing that I was incredibly wrong. I found that, no matter where I lived or how busy I was, I still missed having a creative outlet. I missed sitting down for a few hours and focusing on something entirely different than work or school- so I decided to free up some time and go for it again.
In my last post, I wrote about how my time in New York City was coming to an end. Those five months were amazing and changed me as a person. I gained a new perspective on the world; I met so many new, interesting people; I learned what it’s like to be out there in the real world, practicing my career with people who trust me to do what I’m good at (in NYC, nonetheless…!). I am so thankful for my family that looked after me during this time, and – ofcourse- my internship company for giving me this wonderful opportunity.
Less than 6 months after I returned from my internship, I moved to Pamplona (Northern-Spain) for to study for one semester. Pamplona is known for its annual bull fights (San Fermin) and is located on the famous Pilgrim-route to Santiago de Compostela. To be honest, I had never heard of the city before, but I wouldn’t want to have gone anywhere else. I studied Management & Business Administration at UPNA (Universidad Pública de Navarra) for six months. During these months, I met some incredible people and made friends for life. I traveled more than I ever had, I felt what it’s like to be living on my own and be a 100% independent. And I loved it. I learned Spanish, fell in love with the Spanish cuisine (Paella, tortillas, churros, patatas bravas, croquetas…) and tasted the most wonderful wines. I had the most meaningful conversations with people from all over the world, and locals. There were happy moments, and sad ones, and I am grateful I got to experience every single one of them.
Now I’m back home, working on my bachelor thesis during my graduation internship and I’m hoping to graduate with a BBA in International Business and Languages by the end of this year.
P.S. I’m hoping to do some product reviews again soon, what do you guys want to see?
Can you believe my 5 months in New York are almost over?! In fact, I’m flying back next Thursday. I didn’t have the time to keep this blog updated during the past months but instead, I did get to make some amazing memories.
I met so many new people during my time here and I am so thankful for each and every one of them. Not only did I experience what it’s like to work in New York’s fashion world, but I also experienced what it’s actually like to live in this overwhelming city.
When I arrived in New York, I was convinced that I wanted to change myself and be an entirely different person when I return. That was my main goal. Truth is, I didn’t even change that much. However, I did learn a lot about myself. Even though I stayed with family, I learned what it’s like to be on my own and be responsible for myself. I must admit, it was scary sometimes and there have definitely been some moments where I just didn’t feel like I belonged here. Then I realized, I came all this way to New York for a reason and I’m not going to let some intimidating thoughts get the best of me. I had a great opportunity and I took it, I am living my dream and I don’t want to spend my time regretting it.
Another good thing that came from New York is that I picked up my reading and writing again. The two things I used to love the most. A while ago, I told myself I didn’t have the time anymore to read books or write stories. Yet the first thing I did when I came to New York was going to Barnes&Nobles and buy a book. Even though I didn’t read for months, I felt like I needed to have a book close to me. Every time I needed a break, I’d grab this book and just read a little and it would make me feel calm again. I kept making up excuses for not doing the things I loved most, which is as silly as it sounds, I am so glad I’m realizing that now.
During my time here, I also found myself becoming more and more social. I always used to avoid small-talk and conversations with strangers, but in New York it just became normal and I even ended up making some great friends because of it.
I am forever grateful for having the opportunity to move to New York, for the incredibly kind and inspiring people I met here and for the great memories. The past few months have taught me the art of surviving on my own. It has been an amazing, unforgettable journey and even though I haven’t left yet, I can’t wait to return.
Quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean ‘love’ in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.
This is my 6th week in New York, which means I’ve been here for longer than a month! I experienced a lot in just a few weeks and I’m having the greatest time so far.
In the past 6 weeks I’ve met a lot of new, amazing people at different occasions and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be here. It’s truly wonderful. Also, happy Fall! This is one my favorite seasons of the year and I get to experience it in New York which makes it a 100 times better.
What’s it like to live in “The city that never sleeps”?
The lifestyle in the US, or New York in particular, is very different than what I’m used to. Life goes way faster and everyone always has somewhere to be. But even though everyone has such busy lives, New Yorkers are the kindest people I have ever met. They are incredibly helpful, whether you ask for help or not. If someone catches you looking around in confusion, they’ll walk up to you and offer their help. I’ve seen it happen several times and it keeps amazing me.
I’m working full-time at my internship and I spend my weekends working on school assignments, so it’s really hard to find some time for myself. Luckily, I sometimes get Friday’s off and I spend them wisely. Every Friday off I plan an exploring-day. I visit parks, different neighborhoods, tourist attractions, museums etc. A few weeks ago I visited the Museum of Modern Arts (MoMa) by myself, and I loved it! Even if you’re not really into art, it’s a must-see when you get the opportunity!
I also spent one day at the annual Coterie trade show at the Javits Convention Center, which was a great experience. I was representing Only Hearts with the sales team which was very fun and interesting.
I’ve got many more exciting things coming up and I can’t wait to tell you guys about it (best friend and my parents visiting me in NYC, weekend-trip to Philadelphia, Thanksgiving, Holiday-season……)!
I’m so sorry for not keeping this blog up to date, but I hope you can imagine how busy I’ve been the past few weeks. Please comment below and let me know how you’re all doing ! I miss catching up with you all :(
P.S. Feel free to message me if you have any questions (moving to NYC, internship in USA etc…)
P.P.S. Are any of my readers from New York or in the city right now? Let me know if you want to go out for coffee sometime. I love meeting new people here!
I hope you’re all doing great, and my apologies for not posting anything for a while. I’ve been really busy in the past few months, and it all worked out:
This Fall I’m going to work as a marketing intern at Only Hearts, in New York. I’ll be moving to New York this August, until the end of January 2019 and I’m so excited!
Only Hearts is a lingerie and clothing brand, based in New York. Their pieces are worn by Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Kate Moss and Demi Lovato to name a few. Only Hearts offers a full range of lifestyle lingerie, sleep- and loungewear and it’s all about being sexy yet glamorous. I’m really looking forward to joining their marketing team!
A must-have bucket list item: doing an internship in New York. Sometimes I don’t realize how blessed I am to get this opportunity and make this dream come true. It will be a period full of new experiences, meeting new people and living in an entirely new environment. Hopefully, this opportunity will give me the chance to improve myself, not only in knowledge but also mentally.
Obviously, I’m a little nervous about moving to an entirely different and huge city like New York. I’ve always lived in a pretty small and quiet town in the Netherlands, and now I’m about to move to ‘the city that never sleeps’.
If any of you are living (or have lived) in the US, please let me know if you have any tips, or if you want to share any experiences just comment below!
Like I mentioned in one of my last posts, traffic is one of the most important things when you’re a blogger. There are so many ways to increase your blog traffic, but the simplest one is to promote your blog and yourself: it’s more sensible to let readers associate your name with your blog (unless you’d rather stay anonymous, obviously). Today I’ll tell you about a few ways to promote your blog and how to do this. You’re probably familiar with most of them, but are you really using them to the fullest?
1. Social Media
This isn’t only the most obvious one, but also the most important one. In the US only, an estimated 185 million people are active on social media. Also, 9 in 10 companies worldwide are using social media to interact with customers and promote themselves. Research shows that there were 2,46 billion social media users active in 2017, and people are expecting a total of 3 billion users in 2021. In short, why would you not promote your blog on social media? It’s the way to reach whoever you want to reach. (Source)
A lot of us are currently using Instagram to upload selfies, holiday pictures, party pictures or stalk our “friends”, but this exact same platform could be used for business purposes. If you’re ready to let people know you own a blog, consider putting the link in your Instagram bio. Believe me, it will attract dozens of viewers on a daily base which will make you realize how much people stalk your Instagram…
Another way is creating a Facebook page for your blog, this is also great if your blog has multiple writers. A Facebook page is the way to connect with your readers in a more personal way and keep them up-to-date.
If your blog is all about photographing or any other kind of art, you should definitely start promoting on Tumblr. This might also be your place to be for inspiration!
I used StumbleUpona lot when I started getting more serious with my blog, it’s the easiest way to discover new and interesting websites, photos and videos across the web. It’s also your chance to put your website/blog posts on there and get noticed!
3. Tell people about it (Word-of-Mouth)
One of the most effective ways to create awareness under your target-audience is to talk to them. Tell your friends, family or acquaintances about your blog and ask them to check it out. For example, you can ask an uncle who’s great in English to check out your grammar. This way the people around you will know about your blog and there’s a big chance they’ll tell other people about it too and that is exactly what you want!
I have written an entire article about how to get the most out of Pinterest, which you can find here. Pinterest is full of possibilities to design your life. Discover recipes, healthcare, skincare and self-care ideas, style inspiration, blog post ideas, projects for your home, DIYs and tips and tricks you should definitely try. Find everyday ideas you love, what to make for dinner, what to put on your walls, what to wear and more ideas for every part of your life.
LinkedIn is the place to find and make business connections, expand your business community and share your business-related experiences. If you want to promote yourself or get your blog to a higher and more professional level, this is exactly what you need.
Succesful bloggers aren’t always full-time bloggers. They just spend their time wisely. One of the things they always do is create content for their readers, not for themselves. Besides creating new content, these bloggers are spending hours on creating awareness and eventually gain more blog traffic. If you’re new to blogging, you might find it hard to promote your blog, create content and increase your blog traffic at the same time. One of the most effective ways to do this is using Pinterest. Obviously, anyone can use Pinterest, but are you really getting the most out of it? In this post I’ll explain how to effectively use Pinterest to increase blog traffic.
1. Treat Pinterest like any other social media
A lot of people see Pinterest as the place to promote yourself or your blog, and that’s entirely right. However, Pinterest is much more than that. Start using Pinterest like any other social media account: scroll through your feed and pin whatever interests you. Check out other pinners and their boards, and get inspired. You just have to keep in mind that Pinterest is social media platform and when it comes to online marketing-promotion, it works pretty much the same.
2. Minimum of 5 pins a day
Facebook and Instagram have likes. Twitter has retweets. Pinterest has pins. Try to reach a minimum of 5 pins a day, this way you’re motivated to stay active and create awareness, which is exactly what you need!
The best way to promote your blog post is by sharing it on Pinterest, and you could even re-pin it after a while. Just make sure you don’t pin it 5 times in 5 minutes because really, you’re gonna annoy the hell out of your followers.
3. Regularly refresh boards
Just like your blog content, your pins stay on your boards forever. Make sure that most of your pins (and blog content) are evergreen content, which means that it will always stay relevant or interesting to the readers. So it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out the content of your boards every once in a while. Ask yourself these questions while going over your board-check:
Is every pin placed in the right board? Re-pin and delete!
Check out the pins you created yourself, are all the sources still working?
Could you make your pins more attractive by changing the caption?
Do you still use all your boards? Are there any irrelevant ones? If so, you don’t have to delete them. Consider putting some boards on private.
4. Make everything on your blog pinnable
This is easier for people with a self-hosted blog, because you can edit and adjust your content by yourself. If your blog is self-hosted, make sure that your readers can pin all the pictures on your blog onto Pinterest. You’re really gonna need this feature if you want to get the best out of Pinterest.
Tip: If you’re gonna make all the pictures on your blog pinnable, make sure they’re your own pictures. Don’t just find an aesthetic picture on Google and let people pin it as if it’s yours because that wouldn’t be fair to anyone, right?
5. Pinterest business account
This might be the easiest but most important thing yet. If you already have a Pinterest account, turn it into a business account for free (settings). This way you’ll be able to keep track of your Pinterest analytics which can come in handy when you want to increase your blog traffic.
If you have a self-hosted blog, you can also connect your website to Pinterest. You’ll be able to see what people are saving from your domain and you’ll know how all your content is doing on Pinterest, not just the pins you’ve saved to your profile. It’s free so it’s definitely worth checking out!
I hope these 5 tips will help you out with increasing your blog traffic, because really, Pinterest is the way to go. How active are you on Pinterest? Comment below!
We all have goals in life, don’t we? And we would all like to achieve these goals, but there are days in life when we just don’t feel like doing anything. And that’s okay. Just remember you’re gonna have to pick yourself up eventually and move on, because your goals are waiting for you. That might sound easier than it actually is, I totally agree, and that’s why I’ve made a short list below that will help you to stay motivated and focused on your goals.
#1. Make a to-do list
This always works. When you wake up and feel like doing nothing today, just grab your phone or notebook and start making a to-do list for the day. Just make sure that the order of the tasks doesn’t matter, because that’s gonna make you even more demotivated. This way you can pick anything that’s on the list and accomplish it any time of the day. Try to get as much done as possible and you’ll be surprised how much you’ve done at the end of the day.
You don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work for.
#2. Go offline!
One of the reasons you can’t focus could be because you’re easily distracted. What’s the biggest distraction in our lives these days? That’d be social media and you knew it. It’s so tempting to reach out for your phone while you’re “thinking”, just try not doing that for once! You’re unconsciously taking your mind somewhere else, and your focus goes along. Turn off your wifi/ data or just entirely turn off your phone, to make sure you don’t go checking your social media timelines. Maybe try out the Pomodoro-method?
#3. Change your work place/environment
Are you always working at the same place, in the same environment? That might be another reason you’re not really motivated anymore. Your mind gets used to the environment and it’s not as exciting as it used to be. Try switching to a different environment from time to time. Maybe this cute cafe, a restaurant or the library? You’ll be surprised what it could do to your motivation and inspiration.
#4. Track your progress
There’s no better way to get a confidence-boost than seeing the progress you made. When you’re a blogger, read back old posts and the track the traffic you had on your best days. This will get you motivated to post more in no time (always works for me).
Another way of tracking your progress is checking off the things you already did, e.g. on your to-do list. It will make you feel satisfied and motivated to keep going!
#5. Have a healthy mindset
There’s no way you can stay focused if you don’t have a healthy mindset, but what does this mean? Of course it’s important to exercise regularly and eat healthy, but it’s even more important to make sure your mind is healthy. First of all, life can be stressful sometimes so it’s important to say no sometimes. Also make sure you’re surrounding yourself with positive people, which means: leave all the toxic people behind! You deserve much better and you’ll definitely notice the change.