Posts tagged newbeginnings

Why I Love Volunteering

Quickly after arriving here one of the first things I did was sign up with Boston Cares (see here for more info). They are the largest volunteer agency in New England and they find non-profit organizations in the Boston area that can use the help of volunteers. They put all the opportunities together on their platform where you can sign up for them. Ever since I have been volunteering every week, on average 3-4 times.

I’ve prepared and served meals at the Boston Living Center, the Women’s Lunch Place, I’ve assembled food donations at the American Red Cross, I’ve helped out in food pantries, where food is handed out twice a week to folks in the neighborhood of the East End House in Cambridge,  I’ve planted bulbs on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Those are just a few examples of volunteering jobs I have been doing and this month I’ll be doing a couple of new ones (select books for prisoners, work at different food pantries and serve at a veteran’s center).

Why I love volunteering

Volunteering is something I have always wanted to do. Back in Switzerland, I had inquired a few times with the Red Cross and Caritas on how I could get involved, yet I never followed through with it. That was mainly due to my work schedule that didn’t allow for leaving early during the week or taking time off to do it. Coming here was the best opportunity to really get the volunteering thing going. And I couldn’t be happier. There are a number of reasons why:

#1 Getting involved

I become involved with the community, the city and its people, which gives me a sense of belonging and being connected with the place I now live in.

#2 Gaining new experiences

I have learned so much during those last months. Seeing how a kitchen that produces food for larger groups of people really works was a new experience for me. Learning how to properly cut up vegetables, too (I mean, I know how to handle a knife now. Thanks to Raffael at the Boston Living Center).

I’ve learned a lot about plants and how a city park is maintained when working on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. I’ve learned how to properly plant bulbs (never done that before, now I know) and not to freak out too much every time I see a big ol’ worm when digging up the holes for the bulbs.

#3 Creating connections 

I also get to know a ton of new people every time I volunteer. Be it on the volunteer side or on the side of people we serve. I’ve experienced heart-warming encounters with people that I will never forget.

Once, I got to meet an elderly woman from Haiti with a beautifully friendly face. In the short interaction I had with her when serving her food, I noticed her French accent and talked to her in French. Her face instantly lit up and she had a lot of questions. Why do you speak French? Ah, Switzerland, I have relatives there. I am so happy to talk French to someone. No one does speak it around here. She asked if I had children, a husband. And even though she never had seen Philipp before she told me to tell him she said hello. It seemed very important to her that I’d do that. She also told me to come back next week on the same day so we could chat again. This very simple interaction made my day. I was happy to talk to her. She was happy to talk to me. 

There really have been countless other experiences like a man that I got to know at the Living Center that is  just such a talented piano player. One day I asked him while he came to get the food in the line if he would play again today (there’s a piano in the canteen). He nodded yes, smiling happily. I noticed how proud he was and it made me even more happy.

#4 Learning about people and about myself 

I’ve learned about the homelessness system in Boston, about how families struggle in the area, about what is important in your diet when you are affected by HIV/Aids.

Those are issues I never was confronted with in Switzerland. I am aware that there are also people in need in Switzerland, still it hits me even more here. I see people every week that are struggling to get through the week.

And this is when I realize how privileged I am. I don’t have to think about what I buy in the supermarket, how long it is going to last me. I don’t have an illness that I have to cope with. I have a home. I have a family and friends that care for me.

I happen to be lucky.

The interaction with the people I meet every week reminds me of how grateful I have to be and how I want to help them even more. Even if it’s just a very little help I can offer.

#5 Giving back and helping others 

This one is closely related to the last point: We are pretty lucky, right? That is why I feel obliged to give back. I want to help if I can. As simple as that.

I hope this wasn’t too long of a post, I hope it might inspire you to look into ways how you could contribute to your community in a positive way! Have a good day!

Tips for Getting Into Running

Hello dear friend,

I’m going to be honest.  When I first started running, I hated it. Like I really didn’t enjoy it at all. Obviously Philipp would also not really choose beginner friendly routes, always going uphill (UPHILL PEOPLE, what is wrong with that man), which kind of not motivated me.

A few years in, I have changed my opinion on running and have to say that I really enjoy running now. It really is a liberating and elevating feeling just leaving the house and start running. Wherever you want go. As far as you want to. As simple as that. And the truth is, the more you do it, the better you’ll get (as annoying that sounds especially at the beginning of your runner’s journey). Believe me. Other than that I’ve compiled some tips if you’d like to get into running. Also, it’s the fall soon so perfect time to get those running shoes on and start running.

#1 Choose a route

As trivial as this sounds it makes a huge difference, especially in the beginning. I feel like knowing where your end destination is makes a huge difference on your mental state of mind (aka your motivation). The better you get at running, however, the more you’ll want to switch up your running routes in order to not get bored or have your body get too used to one route over and over again.

#2 Stick to a Plan

I would go for a run here and there in the beginning, really not having a routine or consistent rhythm.

You don’t want to do that, ok. I repeat. You don’t want to do that. 

It will make you have to start over and over again and your body will not get into a routine. Even though you can find a number of elaborate training plans online, keep it simple. Here is the basic formula for a great training plan.

  • Train three days a week
  • Run or run/walk 20 to 30 minutes, two days a week
  • Take a longer run or run/walk (40 minutes to an hour) on the weekend
  • Rest or cross-train on your off days
  • Run at a conversational pace
  • Consider taking regular walk-breaks

#3 Make Running Fun

In order to stick to your new routine of running regularly you’ll have to just make it fun. If you hate it, well, I don’t think it’s going to work you know? Make it fun by going with a friend once a week, by discovering a new part of town or a new cute forest route, take your favorite music with you, go in the early morning to feel energized and fresh for a new day.

#4 Pick a Race

Ok, so you’ve managed to have a plan and enjoy running so far. The absolute best way to keep yourself running in my opinion is to find a race, sign up for it, pay for it and put it on your calendar. A fixed race date will help you stay focused, and keep you on a regular running schedule. Also, it’s really fun (see #3). You might not think that in the beginning but after having finished that 5K, 10K or more (you beast you) you’ll just feel amazing.

#5 Invest in great running gear

Obviously you really only need running shoes to get running. You can run in your pajamas if you like, if that works for you, go ahead. Still, I feel like investing in good workout clothes not only makes you feel good while running you’ll also enjoy running more. Does that make sense? Now that I’ve seen Adriene in her adidas gear, I need those tight pants in my life. ASAP.

Moving In Boston: 5 Things That Are Different Than in Switzerland

Friends,

moving house in the US is an adventure. We will move house by the end of the month and the apartment hunt was definitely quite different from what I’ve experienced so far in Europe. Let’s dig a little deeper.

#1 More people are involved in the apartment hunt

While you usually have an interested renter and a landlord in the mix in Switzerland, you’ll most likely have a a broker, a landlord, an owner and an interested renter talking to each other when apartment hunting around here. Many people use a real estate agent to find a place, which usually comes with a 1-month fee, which you will pay in addition to first, last, and security.

#2 Most apartment leases begin on September 1st

With such a large student population, it makes sense for the Boston rental market to operate on a September 1st schedule. Still, moving day is organized chaos it seems (I’ll see it in a week and will report back). The streets become parking lots for trucks and vans, the sidewalks become homes for unwanted furniture. In one part of the city called Allston there’s so much chaos going on that people lovingly call it Allston Christmas. It basically means that everything that renters don’t take with them ends up on the streets. Yum. It looks a little bit like that. Still, people from other parts of town know about Allston Christmas and will show up to get the things for free.

#3 You might have to sleep with your furniture for one night

What sounds like a weird exaggeration might actually be true for some people. As EVERYONE’s old lease ends on August 31st and EVERYONE’s new lease starts September 1 you basically have a problem. If possible, contact the current tenant of your new apartment to schedule moving times. Sometimes you’re lucky and you’ll be able to move in earlier. If not you’ll have to find a storage or pod for storing your furniture for a night. YES. Weird, right? 

#4 You don’t have time to “think about it”

If you’re buying something like a couch, you get to shop around, take a while to think about which one you like, go see a few more and then make the best choice for you. If you’re looking for apartments, you do NOT get that luxury. You should assume 4 or 5 other people are trying to rent any apartment you see. You have to pretty much decide on the spot if you want a place or not. That was definitely a new experience for me. Apparently, most apartments in Cambridge are usually only on the market for less than a week.

We were basically standing in the kitchen of an apartment we liked and after 10 minutes of looking around were already talking to the broker about the deposit and application process. We went home (it was 5pm in the afternoon) and filled out all the forms that night and also had to wire them the deposit. It went pretty fast to say the least. NO comparison to the slow process in Switzerland.

#5 Don’t touch anything you find on the street in Allston

Going back to #2, Allston Christmas might sound like fun, but it’s not. In fact, Allston Christmas is the least sanitary time of the year.

Saying Goodbye To Cambridge

Hello everyone,

how are you today? In case you missed my post “Why I’m going to buy a Harvard Sweater (even though I said I never would)” elaborating (not really) on why I have to have a sweater of said university because I need a physical souvenir as we are leaving Cambridge by the end of the month.

I went through my photo archive and thought it be nice to put my favorite ones together in a post for you, hope you’ll enjoy this virtual walk around the neighborhood throughout winter and summer time with me. Also, let’s appreciate those beautiful flowers and plants, they grow like crazy here in summer as it is so hot and humid and almost tropical feeling.

Why not have a little wander around your neighborhood today, I’m sure you’ll explore and find new little things around every corner.

Have a great day!

Winter

Winter (soft version, see that clear blue sky?)

Winter (not so soft version)

Spring

Summer

Why I’m Going to Buy a Harvard Sweater (Even Though I Said I Never Would)

Kids! We’re leaving town. We’re leaving Cambridge.

 

So very sad. I’m surprised at how nostalgic I’m feeling when writing down those words. Leaving this special place after having lived here for one year seems so difficult all of a sudden. It’s just SUCH a nice place to live in, especially in summer. I have to say, Boston and Cambridge are total beauties in the summer time (makes you almost forget how TERRIBLE winter is here). Maybe that’s a trick this city plays on you. Half of the year it’s the most beautiful place ever and you’re like, ‘cool place’, other half of the year….NOT SO MUCH.

Anyways. Why do I like it here so much you ask?

Cambridge has the feeling and vibe of a small town to it (a little more than 100’000 inhabitants, remember? Not that much after all), the houses are BEAUTIFUL, there’s tree-lined little cute streets everywhere. Still there are tons of things to do everyday (events, concerts, theatre plays, the list goes on), there are plenty of cool (is it still ok to use ‘cool’?) bars, cafés, amazing restaurants and little local shops all around the corner.

The mix of people is diverse and fascinating, there are obviously lots of proud Harvard students around, wearing all of the branded gear and clothes making it clear to everyone on the streets passing them WHO is going to Harvard. They are. You are NOT. Unless you’re a cute tourist buying all the Harvard shirts and sweaters from the Harvard store to pass as a student. I’m sorry to break it to you. People will notice YOU’RE NOT AN ORIGINAL. Still, I will buy a Harvard sweater as an emotional souvenir. And still, it’s nice to have so many young people around. There are also lots of families and people that have been living here for a long time. Aw, I’m going to miss you Cambridge, you beautiful town.

I sound very dramatic I realize now that I’ve read through that last paragraph. Because…let’s all not forget that we’re moving to the city…that is 10 minutes away by subway.

Anyways, I’m in a dramatic mood today.

Still, I’m going to miss the first place I ever called a home in the United States, I’ll never forget. And this eclectic and international mix of people. Ok, going to leave you now. It’s getting worse and worse.

Have a great day!

August 1st as an Expat

Friends!

Long time no see. How are you? How has your summer been so far?

I’ve had a great time. Isn’t summer just simply the best time of year? Anyways, we’re back in the US and settling in again.

And then there was August 1st.

A day that I normally don’t care much about. Surprisingly this time around I thought about it a lot. And as it seems, if you’re a Swiss living abroad you think about August 1st more than you would if you were back home (at least I think so).

So what do you do? You attend all sorts of August 1st related events. Yes. AND they all mainly revolve around food as they usually do (which is totally fine with me) so we went to an August 1st brunch at the Swiss bakery here in town (see my post about finding that bakery here).

And it was glorious. Birchermüesli, Weggli, Croissants, Wähen, Röschti, cheeses…the list goes on.

We were talking with some fellow Swiss friends at the brunch about what the holiday meant to them and they said that August 1st was mainly a holiday they spent with family and that they associated it with time spent outside (as the weather is usually really good round this time of year). What does it mean to you? I’d love to know! I felt still connected to Switzerland even though I wasn’t there.

Have a great week and see you back tomorrow with another say Swiss themed post!

My Summer Capsule Wardrobe And How To Make Your Own

Guys,

remember how I had talked about kind of having a capsule wardrobe in this post a few months ago?

Well, I wanted to give it a go again (forreal this time) and do my first ever summer capsule wardrobe. Before I jump in, here’s a refresher on capsule wardrobes, in case you want to read about it in more detail again. Without further ado, here comes how I did it and how you could attempt to do your own little wardrobe summer experiment!

Step 1 – Make a huge pile

What’s the classic first move of all decluttering action? Yes, taking out everything and spreading it out on the floor. Move warm sweaters and the like out of the way on a store away pile as well as trousers, “thick” jeans and flannel shirts. It will help you figure out what has to be stored away for fall and what to keep and use for your wardrobe in summer.

Step 2 – Separate tops from bottoms from shoes

It’s interesting to separate your clothes along those three categories as you will very quickly see where your priorities lie. My obsession definitely seems to be tops, while I have less bottoms and even less shoes. What about you? Which category of clothes is your favorite one?

Step 3 – Go through each category and sort out what you don’t want to keep

What helps is seeing what type of colors, patterns or materials you have lying around in your bottoms or shoes pile if you’re going through your tops pile for example. While you don’t really know what you have in your crammed closet it helps seeing it all in one pile. Seeing all my stuff on a pile made me realize that my color scheme is rather neutral, monochrome, with the odd pattern and color dash. It also made me realize which brands I tend to always turn to (in my case Cos, And other stories, Uniqlo, Zara and H&M).

Step 4 – Count your tops, bottoms and shoes

I ended up with a total of 36 pieces in my summer wardrobe including tops, jackets, bottoms, dresses, and shoes (meaning I’d get to have one extra piece, which will most probably be comfortable Birkenstock sandals, which I’m currently missing in my selection). Disclaimer: As we’ve moved here I obviously couldn’t bring all of my stuff, back home I’d have to get rid of way more stuff.

Step 5 – Plan on what you need to buy/get rid of

If you’ve got your total down you’ll most likely realize that you don’t need any new things. But if you feel like you want to replace a top/dress or shoe go for it. As mentioned below I’ll most likely invest in one new pair of comfortable every day sandals.

The Overview

Tops

18 t-shirts and shirts: As mentioned above, I seem to be a total t-shirts and shirts kind of girl. They’re so easy to wear, you can dress them up or down and they’re just comfortable. Most of my shirts are from Uniqlo as I really think the quality is very good for the price you pay. Most of those shirts are already a few years old and they are still in pretty good shape. Highly recommend! Most of my t-shirts are from Cos and H&M. Simple but good. 

2 special shirts: For lack of a better description. Those are a black top and a white silk top with a cutout in the back. Also, yes, I don’t currently own an iron. No judging here. Thanks.

2 sweaters: For the odd more fresh day in summer I have a white ripped cotton and slightly cropped sweater from Cos as well as a light grey cashmere sweater by Zara.

2 jackets: A white blazerish jacket and a more funky bomber to throw on a t-shirt or a shirt.

Bottoms

6 trousers and shorts: A mix of my trusted Wedgie Fit Jeans, a black linen trousers by And other stories, dark navy jogger pants, shorts in navy and print and a midi skirt.

3 dresses: I’ve got a casual stripy cotton dress, back home a green coppery Cos dress (see featured photo of this post) as well as a denim shirt dress by Uniqlo are waiting for me.

Shoes

3 Sneakers, silver sandals and black loafers: That’s it. I’m shocked myself to write that. But hey, it’s really not a huge deal. In fact it’s really nice having a manageable selection (#firstworldproblems).

Do let me know if you give the summer capsule wardrobe experiment a try, ok?

Have a lovely day!

How Living In The US Has Changed Me

Hi friends, how are you today?

I have been reflecting lately on how this American experience has changed me (be it small or big things) and wanted to share my thoughts in today’s post.

  1. It made me wear gym leggings in public. And not care about how I look that much anymore. Seriously, I’m not just saying that. It’s true people.
  2. On a more serious note: It changed my understanding of American culture. Even though I had travelled to the US several times before moving here, most preconceptions I had about American culture and daily life came from tv shows (hello Glee), movies and other people’s opinions. Obviously, even though there usually is some grain of truth in there, reality is different (what a surprise). What I’ve encountered and experienced here is that people are incredibly open and friendly. Especially in the first few months after my arrival people I newly met and told about my background were all very supportive and literally everyone would say “Welcome to America”. I don’t know why this simple sentence stuck with me so much but I found it to be such a nice detail. I also thought that if I were to have the same conversation in Switzerland with someone that had recently moved there I would never say “Welcome to Switzerland”. (Maybe I’m just not a friendly person or would you?). What I’m trying to say is that given the international and migrational backgrounds that basically everyone has that you meet here, people tend to be curious and welcoming towards “newcomers”, which is a nice experience. Furthermore, what I found to be even nicer, is how people here are genuinely involved with their community and do a lot of volunteering. Much more than is usual in Switzerland I think. It is regarded a total normality to be engaged in some sort of activity in your community and to spend time volunteering. I really do appreciate this “can do attitude”, where everyone wants to help each other out, at least around here. I think that communal feeling is what has surprised me the most (in a positive way).
  3. It reshaped my values. My generation is seeking in attaining extreme levels of success, notoriety (ha), or success in whatever they do (I know generalizing). Still, there is a constant thirst for more and to be more. While that may sound exaggerating I think that it is somewhat true, we (and I’m not excluding myself) are always looking into ways of further evolving and being successful at what we do. However, when I moved to the US, I was forced to slow down. A lot. I had to sort out all of my paperwork for the work permit, had to figure out this new living situation etc. The far slower pace of my life translated into me putting more time into relationships with friends (and new friends), personal interests and hobbies than into professional prowess, which was something I had never done to that extent when I was working before. As I am now back into the whole application madness, I look back and reconsider that it is important putting enough time aside for your personal interests, friends and family.
  4. It made me more open-minded. This sounds really cliché, but it’s just so true! Living abroad does something incredible: You are exposed to an eclectic bunch of different people and you learn more not only about others and their approach to life but also about yourself. I’m already grateful for the many fantastic people from all over the word that I’ve met, that I’ve had conversations with (even if it was about seemingly small daily life things like what sort of food or shoes are typical for the place they are from). I loved every bit of it. Because it allowed me to learn about people, their experiences and other cultures in such a personal and deep way. Even as a European meeting people from Finland, Sweden, Denmark makes me realize how little we know from each other. Not to mention, all my new friends from China, South Korea, Vietnam or India, which is even more interesting! In short: My change in attitude has been brought about by the people I have met and the friends I have made.
  5. It changed my language skills and ability to communicate When I arrived in the US, I was a confident English speaker I’d say. Still, I found it awkward at times speaking in English (to the extent where I would plan what I would say when I was going into a bakery or government office). Now, I am in a state where I don’t even think about it anymore, I. JUST. TALK. I’ am definitely enjoying speaking English, I sometimes even will drop a word or two in English when speaking to Philipp (and he will be looking at me like ???!!). Just because they seem more fitting to me than the German version of them.

Have you also lived abroad for a while? If so, how did it change you? I’d love to hear!

Have a lovely week!

Going Vegan for One Week: An Experiment

Hi gang,

I’ve come up with yet another food related experiment. After 3 weeks of full on food overload (delicious though) with friends and family and many many outings to restaurants, cafés and bakeries and I thought why not try….and going vegan for one week (meaning, besides no meats to eat no dairy products).

So, what happened, you ask? I failed on day 3 (that was two weeks ago). And I must say it was mainly due to the fact that I hadn’t really prepared for it and thought I could just wing it.

Well, no.

I decided to give it another try, put a little more thought into it and went for a big shop on Sunday.

A short excursus here: We went to our regular neighborhood supermarket (still big in comparison to Swiss supermarkets) and not to Whole Foods, which I’m sure would have had more vegan options. Still, “armed” with all the salad items, vegetables, grains, oatmeal, fruit, vegan butter, vegan cheese (ewww) I felt like I could take on this week without a problem.

Still I only passed my vegan experiment by 95%? Read on more about it below!

Breakfast

Breakfast actually was the one meal I found the easiest to do throughout this whole week.

I normally eat porridge for breakfast and even when I’m not doing a vegan experiment, I use almond milk to cook it as I find it delicious and feel like it doesn’t sit too heavy in my stomach either. In short: I had either porridge with almond milk (also bought a chocolate almond milk version to spice things up a little, very delicious), dates and bananas or strawberries. I switched between the porridge and homemade acaï bowl with bananas and granola. Usually accompanied by a herbal lemon or fennel tea. Very delicious.

Lunch

Rich Salads were my go to option for lunch. However, I went to one lunch talk at MIT where I was confronted with their buffet options (grilled meats, cheese platters, … you get the picture. NOT VEGAN.). Let me just say that I was the person eating all the hummus and olives.

Snacks

I mostly ate fruit like grapes, bananas, strawberries, dates or energy and protein bars (I actually kind of developed an obsession for energy bars, more on that topic soon). And dairy-free ice cream by FOMU or Ben & Jerry’s. Other than that, nothing special to report.

Dinner

I discovered a new grain: FARRO (Dinkel for you Swiss and German readers). I love it! So I went for it and made a zucchini risotto. I tried to sprinkle a bit of vegan Mozzarella on it at the end, which I regretted. It just didn’t taste right. Other options were a delicious vegetable curry with rice, lots of chickpeas. I basically must have eaten 5 tins of chickpeas all by myself.

I don’t regret it though. I love me some chickpeas.

Why I Failed

I failed twice to be exact.

AND it was other people’s fault (of course, no but really).

Let me explain. The two times I could actually not keep up the vegan promise (if you want to call it that) was when I was involved in social situations with other people. On Friday for instance, we had a boardgames and pizza evening with our international Harvard friends. I even tried to research vegan pizzas in Cambridge before going out. But a few clicks in, made it clear that the next vegan pizzeria was way too far away, I gave up. I know I know. I just didn’t want to be the special one who had to order a pizza especially made for her.

Second time I gave in was at a baby shower on Sunday. I just wanted to taste some of that beautiful cake, I mean, do you understand what I mean? Weak me. 

Conclusion

I really do admire vegans, as I now understand how much preparation and discipline it must take to really go through with it. Obviously every vegan reading this will shake their heads at my weak (or non existing) discipline.

Could I be a vegan? I consider myself a flexible vegetarian, meaning that I will mostly eat vegetarian 90% of the time, with the odd exceptions of a good and organic piece of meat, cordon bleu or a bit of bacon at breakfast every once in a while. I find that it is way more easy to upkeep a vegetarian lifestyle as you still are allowed to eat honey, eggs, yoghurt and cheese. Foods that I simply love.

The milk and the butter I find rather easy to substitute, while it seems impossible to me to find a good substitute for cheese. I did try a coconutmilk yoghurt but didn’t like it too much. And eggs every once in a while are nice to have for breakfast. This has become more of a ramble than a structured text now.

All to finish off by saying that I find it very important to eat a balanced diet including everything there is (even though I am mostly leaving out meats and fish), while I of course respect everyone’s decision on how to eat the way they want to. I totally understand all of the reasons behind going vegan and again, I admire the determination. Still, I don’t think it’s for me.

Are you vegan or trying to be? Could you picture yourself being one? I’d love to hear your comments below!

7 Ways To (Instantly) Make Your Day Better

Hi friends

How are you today? Having a good day? No? I totally feel you. I had a bad day yesterday. Just feeling really ‘meh’ all day, not my usual self. Maybe it’s the depressing weather here or I don’t know what. Sometimes it’s just like that. It made me think what small things brighten up my day so I came up with the following seven ways. In case you’re having a ‘meh’ day today as well, I’m with you. And maybe some of those ideas might inspire you and make it a little better again.

If you have any other tips, let us know in the comments below! Bye!

#1 Make your bed when you wake up

It sounds SO SO stupid yet just the fact of doing it (and let’s be honest it only takes you less than a minute) will make you start your day on a productive note.

#2 Tackle your most daunting task first

When you prioritze your to do list and place your most dreaded task at the top, its power no longer looms over you all day. Whatever it is, once you check it off your list, you’ll feel so accomplished and ready to take all the other tasks on.

#3 Do something thoughtful for someone else

Doing something nice for someone else is scientifically proven to make your day better. Call or message a friend, send your grandparents a handwritten card, pay for your friend’s coffee at the café, bring your mother a bunch of flowers, the list is endless. Not only will this help take your mind off of whatever is bothering you, but it will also make someone else’s day better.

#4 Listen to your favorite song on repeat

Do you have a favorite song that you like to listen to when you’re in need of positive vibes? If not, it’s time to find one. Scientific American reports that “music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort, and may even promote metabolic efficiency.” So. Today’s to do: Find a go-to power song, or go the extra step and create a playlist so that you’ll never run out of options.

#5 Say “please” and “thank you”—and mean it

Being kind is important, right? Being kind AND sincere is even better. The more genuine kindness you offer to others, the more genuine kindness you’ll see in return. Hold the door for a stranger today, thank people for their efforts at work, say “please” when you order your morning coffee, smile AND MEAN IT.

#6 Have a relaxing bath

Rather than having that quick shower, make some me time (read more on how to practice self-care here) and have a bubble bath. You can also do a face or hair mask or whatever makes you feel good! It is a great treat after a long and hard day.

#7 Sniff something lemon-fragranced 

Yep, you read that right. To improve your day, simply sniff a lemon, light a lemon scented candle or get yourself a citrusy perfume. Scientists at Tel Aviv University suggest that citrus fragrances – particularly lemon – can alleviate depression and boost our mood. Why that is? The smell of a lemon boosts your levels of serotonin (a feel-good hormone) and lowers levels of norepinephrine (a stress hormone).

The Expat Tag Follow-up

Hi guys!

Remember, how a few weeks back I had created an expat tag? Well, lots of lovely people did it and I thought it would be nice to feature their blogs and share some of my favorite answers with you. Also, lots of other people reacted so thanks to them too for sharing their stories even though they aren’t featured here (shout out to Christine!).

Check out Sarah’s blog Endless Distances here to read more about her experience as an American yoga teacher living in Plymouth (also, beautiful photos alert).

“Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand? I cannot bear the Plymouth accent. I really cannot. Growing up in the USA we all fell in love with the poshest of British accents (think Colin Firth) and were led to believe all Brits sound the same… this is NOT the case and my ears are now attuned enough that I can spot a Plymouthian accent from a mile away.”

HAHA.

Between England and IowaFollow a British Girl’s life in the Midwest of the States over here.

“What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home? Driving 3 hours to go to an airport.  In the UK, that’d be like me driving to Manchester to get on a flight.  Why would I do that when I have Stansted, Southend, Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, London City, all less than 90 minutes away and all flying internationally?!  Now, my nearest major international airport is Chicago O’hare (that’s the nearest airport that flies direct to the UK) and it’s 3 hours away.  Those 3 hours of driving are a killer before and after a long haul flight.”

The Frenchy WayFind out what the frenchy way of living in Santa Cruz is and check out this French girl’s blog here. It’s very interesting, lots of pretty photos too!

I had a hard time choosing an answer I liked most, there were too many, seriously (it might also been the beautiful French language or the Grizou GIF, not sure). 

“Quel type de réactions obtenez-vous lorsque vous rencontrez de nouvelles personnes et leur dites d’où vous venez? Les réactions sont toutes très sympathiques. J’ai été très étonnée au début. Je pensais que les français avaient mauvaise réputation outre-atlantique. En fait, c’est le contraire, on a plutôt la côte !”

This one was funny, too:

“Quel est votre plat préféré, nourriture ou boisson dans votre nouveau pays?
Les ARTICHAUTS ! Vous entendez le cri du cœur là ? En soupe, en crème, en salade, frits… Californie = artichoke. D’ailleurs la capitale de l’artichaut se trouve à Castroville, à 40 minutes de chez nous. Les artichauts californiens, tu peux pas test !”

An Aussie in San FranciscoCheck out this Australian’s adventures in beautiful San Francisco over here.

“What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from? Americans tend to love Australians. I’m not sure why. I get a lot of “crikey”s and questions about deadly animals. Sometimes they just ask me which part of Australia I’m from and let me continue on my merry way. Other times I get a rendition of their best Aussie accents. To this day I get a visit from a colleague once a week to regale me with his awful accent. It’s British. The more I tell him that it’s British, the more he assaults me with it.”

My Theory on BloomingCheck out Claire’s thoughtful blog on her adventures as an American mom in South Africa here.

“Your favorite food or drink item in your new country? Granadilla – It’s a passionfruit which tastes both sour and sweet, and full of flavor.  It’s good with yogurt, mixed in a drink, or made into a sweet dessert.  My daughters even eat them right out of the skin.  I’ve got a vine growing in our back garden.  So, when they are in season…I don’t even have to pay for them!”

Expat The WorldA sweet Spanish girl moves to Germany and tells you what it really is like, check it out here.

“What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from? Usually people tend to tell me something in spanish; “hola”, “sangría” or “paella” are the most common words people say. Another usual thing is to ask me about the weather; “do you miss the sun?”. They get really surprised when I explain them that the sun does not always shine in Spain.”