Blogger Interview Series: Post IVF World

Hey there! It’s time for the next blogger interview in my series! I have had so much fun with this series and I hope you have too! I apologize for the delay in posts lately, life has gotten very crazy! I have a little less than a month left of my study abroad program, which means lots of logistics to figure out–but I am going to make an effort to post more often in the coming weeks!

Today’s interview is with Post IVF World, and I am so excited to share more about her blogging journey with you!

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Hi!

Before I start the answers, I just want to thank The Wise Willow for letting me take part in this interview series! I know I am a niche blog and not for everyone, but it really is awesome to receive support from other bloggers!! Thank you!

What is your favourite song at the moment?

Rex Orange county – Best friend

What is your favourite type of food (or types if there are types!)?

PIIZZAAAA Always pizza! Or Greek food, but mostly pizza!

Although I do have a ‘difficult’ relationship with food and struggle to let myself have these kind of treat foods much!

Coffee, tea, neither, or both?

Tea for sure! I had a friend over this weekend who loves coffee and she really tried to get me into it! But I just couldn’t do it!!

Do you prefer to hand write or to type?

Hand write notes but type up posts and articles! It is much easier to correct mistakes that way!

What is your favourite season?

Autumn! So right now, I love the cold air, the falling leaves, the cosy nights and the wrapping up! It makes me so exited for Christmas and bonfire night is a big deal in my family too!

What is your favourite book (or one that you would recommend at the moment)?

I love the Northern lights trilogy by Philip Pullman, it takes me to another place, where things are interesting and different and I find my anxiety just disappears!

Any fun facts you want to share?

I have a friend I met on holiday when I was 7! We are still close and talk all the time and see each other as much as possible, she lives in London and I am in the North! I feel proud that we have kept our friendship going so long!

When did you start your blog, and what was the reasoning behind it?

I went through menopause at 15, I had 3 rounds of IVF in my early 20’s and had 2 pregnancy losses, ultimately we decided to end our IVF journey with no children, I originally started writing about this as a form of therapy, and thought I may as well publish the work I was doing, to help others and show people they are not alone!

Similarly, what was the inspiration behind your blog/brand name (and did you find it difficult to create)?

My blog is ‘postivfworld’, it does what it says on the tin, I have thought of changing it, but I am not sure if I should or not!

It allows me to be pretty versatile in what I write about as it can cover anything in my life now!

When you first started blogging, did you have a goal in mind for where you wanted it to (or thought it would) take you?

Not at all, I hoped to help some people, maybe get a couple of emails from people saying reading it has helped them through difficult times, I never thought I would find such an amazing/ supportive community!

What did you know about blogging before you started?

Very little, I mostly knew of the famous beauty and fashion bloggers, I had no idea of the diversity of blogging topics and groups out there! I was pleasantly surprised and so glad I started my blog!

What were the resources you used to find out more?

In all honesty, I didn’t, one day I just got a word press account and went for it, and here I am about 6 months later, still learning and making mistakes but really enjoying the process!

Where do you find your inspiration to continue blogging?

From the people I speak to everyday, sharing their own stories and helping others, I love the people I speak to and the things I have gotten involved with! Its addictive!

Has your inspiration stayed the same since you started your blog?

Absolutely, although now I would love to make some money from it, I work hard enough on it, and I would love to get paid to write articles for magazines that focus on infertility, pregnancy loss, or mental health issues.

What is your favourite social media platform or method of communication with your readers?

Absolutely Twitter, I find it so easy to communicate with others. I love getting involved with the chats and finding new people to talk to.

If you had to sum up everything that you have learned about blogging to tell someone new to the community, what would you tell them?

Be yourself, write what comes naturally and don’t force it!

Have you ever rebranded your blog or changed direction with it?

NO! Although I have thought about it! But my name really allows for everything, wherever my ‘post ivf world’ takes me.. although I do try to stick to my main topics!

What has been your favourite part about blogging overall (if you could only pick one!)?

I have found my purpose, I honestly believe that I was meant to do this!

Have you ever experienced ‘bloggers block’ or a slump in motivation? How have you overcome this challenge?

Yes totally, surely everyone does sometimes? I normally walk away from the computer and try again later! I also make sure I write down ideas when they come to me or I will forget and be annoyed when I can’t think of anything to write!

Where do you see your blog taking you in the future?

Hopefully I can get more involved in campaigning for mental health, IVF, infertility education etc. I would love to write for a magazine on a regular basis and get paid for it too, but ultimately I want to create a community of people who are trying to live their life post IVF and looking for support!

What is your favourite part about the creative process? (i.e. do you have a favourite step in the blog post writing process, a favourite topic or style, etc.)

I love just sitting down and writing how I feel, getting my thoughts out of my head and on to paper, or onto a computer, it helps me process things and reduces my anxiety!

I love these kind of Q&A posts too, I enjoy them because especially on my blog which can be very serious, it provides an insight into the person a little more, and some relief from what can be very hard topics to write about!

If you could pick three words to sum up your blogging journey, what would they be?

Very early days!!!!

Who are the creators or people in your life that inspire you?

I am inspired by the other fertility bloggers out there, the bloggers that talk about mental health and put themselves in vulnerable positions, also by the big bloggers who are nailing what they do!

Thanks again guys!

You can find me at:

Twitter – @postivf

Blog – www.postivfworld.wordpress.com

Email – postivf@outlook.com

Thank you for being willing to take part in my blogger interview series! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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The Numbers Game: A Blogging Reflection

This is a post that I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time, and I hope that it helps other bloggers and creators out there who have been feeling the same way about their endeavors. I would love if you shared this with anyone who might need it, and to comment with your own reflections! 🙂

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The Numbers Game

As I felt the frustration build inside of me, I wondered why I kept feeling this way. Why I kept feeling like my progress wasn’t just frozen–it was in rewind. What was causing this? Why wasn’t I happy with how far I’ve come?

Life has been busy lately, but I’ve made sure to keep blogging a part of the balance. But ever since my semester ended in May, I’ve felt stuck in a rut. As my social media stagnated or decreased in engagement, I felt less inclined to dedicate time to it. Blog views decreased, video views went from hundreds to single digits. I got sponsored post rejection emails every day in my inbox. Needless to say, this wasn’t inspiring me to continue.

I started to micromanage my social media accounts–obsessing over what time I posted, what type of photo I posted, and what hashtags I used. I downloaded apps to manage followers on Instagram and Twitter, convinced this would get me back to where I wanted to be.

I remember one day thinking to myself what if I just tossed out my Instagram and started from scratch? It’ll never have a theme anyway. As soon as I thought this, it hit me. I had fallen back into the numbers game.

This had happened one other time in the two years that I have been blogging. You would think it would be easy to recognize the patterns again, but the thing about the numbers game is that it plays off your blogging fears and worries. It uses your desire for “success” against you, making comparison rise to the forefront of your mind.

So…What to Do?

I started my blogger interview series shortly after this revelation, wanting to learn more about other bloggers and their reasons for starting their blogs. The response was incredible, and demonstrated that there really is something unique about every creator’s story.

This made me realize what a mistake deleting my Instagram would have been. Sure, it didn’t have many followers. But it was me, it was my creative vision and what mattered to me. Deleting it to make it more like the accounts I thought were successful would have caused me to lose my unique creativity.

Leaving numbers behind is essential, but also much easier said than done. It’s hard to distance yourself from numbers when they are always visible on social media accounts, analytics, and applications for sponsored post networks.

Something I have done recently is only check analytics when I absolutely need too. In terms of social media, I am bound and determined to make it something that I enjoy again. Instead of focusing on likes and engagement (which, let’s face it, has gotten so much harder with Instagrams not-so-new algorithm), I’m putting out content that I truly enjoy and am proud of.

I’m also going to put more effort into my own email list. This is something I have told myself I was going to do about 142 times in the past, but I know that the effort would be worth it (because I personally love getting emails in my inbox from my favorite bloggers!).

Rebranding: Rekindling Inspiration

Recently I have also thought about where I want my blog to go in the future. I designed a survey that asked people what they thought my target audience was, and the result was largely “college students”. This was definitely my target audience when I started, but now that my college graduation is on the horizon (somehow!!), I want my blog to reflect where I see my future heading. In other words, I see my blog transforming into a vegan and sustainable lifestyle blog, and I have started to make this shift happen. I have a few exciting projects in the works that will help me make this a reality.

Sometimes it’s important to realize when your blog isn’t growing with you. This can often be the first step in regaining inspiration to write and explore new topics! Have you ever rebranded in the past? Where has it led you creatively?

Take Time to Reflect on Where You Are

This is perhaps one of the most important things. It’s so easy to think about where you aren’t or what goals you haven’t reached. But what goals have you reached? Where are you compared to when you first started this journey? I looked through my photo archives of past blog posts and projects, and saw just how far my blog has come. How it has grown with me, changed depending on my interests, and how it has always been something that I have wanted to dedicate time to. When you find yourself caught in the numbers game (as well all have been I’m sure!), this reflection can help you get back on track.

What has helped you to get out of the numbers game? Let me know in the comments! This is something that happens to many creators, and I would love to start a discussion about it!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Looking for the Adventure of a Lifetime?

As I walked out of the room, I felt a profound new interest blooming. One day I would have to go, I just had to. Once I graduated and knew more about the direction of my life, I would make it happen. Every email newsletter served as a reminder of this dream.

Four Years Later…

This was it. The year that I could actually make it work. I knew this day would come, but it still felt surreal. I had sent the email a few days before, refreshing my inbox every few hours in anticipation. Then there it was, the confirmation. I was actually going, and experiencing something I had been wanting to do for years.

Since that moment four years ago, I graduated from high school and found my passions in college. I declared a double major, found numerous amazing communities, and was living a life that I never could have predicted. Then one day I got another email newsletter. Though my studies were so different now, I knew this would be the adventure of a lifetime.

As the plane touched down on the runway, it all became real. I was actually here, and about to meet an amazing group of people just as excited as I was to start this journey! The next eleven days were some of the best of my entire life, filled with new experiences, wonderful people, and amazing adventures!

The Save the Frogs 2017 Costa Rica EcoTour was everything I imagined it to be, and then some. Waking up to the sounds of birds and frogs in the foggy mornings, boating through the jungle, learning how to make coffee and chocolate, and witnessing a sea turtle lay eggs and return to the moonlit ocean waves. These are only some of the experiences that I have, and they are as vivid in my memory as they were when they happened. I made lifelong friends, and lived a dream I had since the information session at my high school during my junior year.

Though I am now studying Political Science and Religious Studies, the relevance of ecology, environmental protection, ecotourism, and resource conservation are topics that I have always been passionate about. I came into the EcoTour with a limited specific knowledge of amphibians, and left with an abundance of new information and experiences that I knew I would use in the future.

I shared about my journey on social media, but wanted to write a post about the impact that this EcoTour had on me. I still think about it every day, and sometimes I journal about experiences that remind me of those amazing eleven days. I’ve had many people ask me about the trip itself, and how they can find out more.

And guess what? There’s going to be a 2018 Costa Rica EcoTour!! This is amazing news, because 2017 was the first EcoTour to Costa Rica. I would love for you to share in the experiences that I had!

Not only do you get to have the adventure of a lifetime, but your EcoTour funds amphibian conservation efforts all around the world! This year’s Costa Rica EcoTour runs from July 14th to July 28th, 2018It is the perfect opportunity for you to travel on your own, with friends, or with family.

So what was my experience like? Life-changing. Seriously. Here are a few photos and videos to give you an idea of the daily adventures we had!

Are you ready to take the trip of a lifetime? If you would like to learn more about the EcoTour, including itinerary information you can find out more here! (They also have an amazing photo gallery from this year’s EcoTour–you’ll see me in lots of the photos! 😀 ) Save the Frogs also has another EcoTour this year, traveling to Ecuador! I highly recommend an EcoTour if you have wanted to explore conservation and amphibian ecology in breathtaking places! It is the perfect opportunity to travel on your own, with friends, and/or with family too!

Since I have been on an EcoTour before, I have a referral code that you can use if you are interested in the trip! First, you can fill out an expression of interest formwhere you can enter my referral code in the section that says “How did you hear about this EcoTour?”. My referral code will save you $200 on the EcoTour price!

REFERRAL CODE: alyssafrogs200

If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to me via messages on any of my social media channels or via email (thewisewillowblog@gmail.com)! You can also contact anyone at Save the Frogs (contact@savethefrogs.com). There are additional discounts for multiple trip members, early registration, and for full-time students too!

I hope you consider these EcoTours if you are looking for an adventure for Summer 2018! I would love if you shared this with anyone who is interested too–the more the merrier! 🙂 These EcoTours are scheduled on a year-by-year basis, so if you are interested in going this is the perfect opportunity! (The locations may change in the future, so there is no guarantee there will be another Costa Rica or Ecuador EcoTour!).

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Interview: Amélie of A Wanderer’s Adventures

It’s time for another blogger interview! This has been one of the best series that I have done on The Wise Willow, and I have loved learning more about other bloggers! Blogging is something that has changed my life in so many ways, and I wanted to learn how it has done the same for others.

Today’s interview is Amélie of A Wanderer’s Adventures! I have been following Amélie’s blog since I started my blogging journey, especially since we are both studying abroad this semester!

Amélie of A Wanderer’s Adventures

Amélie is a twenty-something girl from a small town in Quebec, Canada who is currently studying abroad in England. She loves traveling, reading, bingeing shows on Netflix, and eating delicious food. Through her blog, A Wanderer’s Adventures, she hopes to help young women thrive in college and live their best life.

What is your favorite song at the moment?

I’m currently loving How Long by Charlie Puth!

What is your favorite type of food (or types if there are ties!)?

I absolutely love Italian food! Pasta and gelato are the way to my heart, haha.

Coffee, tea, neither, or both?

If you had asked me a month ago, I would have said neither. But I’ve started drinking coffee and I like it!

Do you prefer to hand write or to type?

I’ve always been a pen pal kind of gal.
What is your favorite season?

​​Fall! (No surprise there, really.)
What is your favorite book (or one that you would recommend at the moment)?
One of my all-time favorite trilogies is To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han! If you like romance novels and cute contemporaries, you’ll love it! I think it also depicts the struggles we face as teenagers pretty well. ​
Any fun facts you want to share? 

I absolutely hate cheese! (Yes, that means that I don’t like pizza.)
When did you start your blog, and what was the reasoning behind it? Similarly, what was the inspiration behind your blog/brand name (and did you find it difficult to create)?
I first started my blog as a way to pass time the summer before I went to university, in April 2015. My hours had been cut off at work, and I needed a way to keep myself occupied so I wouldn’t lose my mind. I wanted to write about my adventures over the summer, hence the name A Wanderer’s Adventures.
When you first started blogging, did you have a goal in mind for where you wanted it to (or thought it would) take you? Have you reached that goal or changed it?
Not at all. I think I just wanted to be famous, haha. In all honesty, that was just a hobby for me, a way to pass time. Also, as I wanted to become a journalist at the time, I thought it would help me build a portfolio. Obviously, my goals changed as I started taking it more seriously. My goals have refined themselves, they’re more specific and realistic. I don’t think I’ll become a famous blogger anytime soon, haha.
What did you know about blogging before you started? What were the resources you used to find out more?
I knew absolutely nothing about blogging when I first started. I was following a few bloggers, and I used them as inspiration and as a  resource when it came to blogging. I googled a lot of things. It’s crazy how much information you can find on the Internet nowadays!
What, if anything, has been an unexpected part of your blogging journey?
I honestly did not expect to find such an amazing community. I was very lost and lonely when I first started, but now I’m happy to say that I consider a lot of bloggers to be my friends. The college blogger community is fairly small, but we all know each other and love to chat about anything, whether that is our latest jamming playlist on Spotify or what we want to do after college. I have found supportive people that understood me, and that’s something I had been looking for my whole life.
Where do you find your inspiration to continue blogging? Has your inspiration stayed the same since you started your blog?
Inspiration is quite a struggle for me. There are days where I have so many ideas, I can’t type fast enough to write them down. But there are periods where I’m not feeling inspired. This has been happening a lot to me lately. As I’m heading somewhere else in my life, I’m asking myself a lot of questions, including what I was going to do with my blog. I think most of my posts are inspired from something that is going on in my personal life. Since the beginning, I’ve based my writing on what I was going through as a college student and a young woman, and that hasn’t really changed. Whenever my life feels boring, I hit a creative block. The same happens when it’s the opposite. And I don’t think the way I get inspiration is ever going to change. My blog is an extension of my life.
What is your favorite social media platform or method of communication with your readers? What about the platform makes it your favorite?
I think all social media platforms have a different way to reach your followers. When it comes to engaging with my followers, I absolutely love Twitter. I think it’s easy to start a conversation and engage with your audience. It’s interactive and very fun (and there is no crazy algorithm to get in the way of that, haha).
If you had to sum up everything that you have learned about blogging to tell someone new to the community, what would you tell them?
Don’t give up. Blogging can be so overwhelming and there is definitely a lot to learn, with the blogging world constantly changing. There are new blogs in the market every day, so you have to be willing to put in some work to stand out and reach your audience. But if blogging is something that you really want to do, then don’t give up. It can be hard sometimes to put in some work and not see the expected results, but trust me when I say that it will be worth it in the long run. I’ve tried blogging many times before I started A Wanderer’s Adventures. But I’ve never committed to it the way that I am now, and I can see such a difference. You can’t expect to get thousands of pageviews overnight. You have to work first before that can happen. You can’t just expect to see engagement if you don’t engage with others yourself. But trust me when I say that all those efforts are going to be worth it in the end. I’ve met some life-long friends through blogging, and I am proud to call them my friends, even if we haven’t met in real life (yet). Once you find your community, you will see why it is all worth it. It’s not about the money, but about the community.
Have you ever rebranded your blog or changed direction with it? How did this process come about, and why did you decide to make the change? (Or, are you looking to rebrand your blog in the future?)
I have rebranded my blog a bit in the past. I didn’t really have an editing style before (all my Pinterest graphics looked different), but last year I changed my theme and figured out an aesthetic for my blog. I have thought many times about changing my blog name, but have never been able to make the move. I might rebrand my blog in the (near?) future. I think the reason why we go through rebranding is that our personality changes, we grow as people and we want our blog to reflect that change.

What has been your favorite part about blogging overall (if you could only pick one!)?

Meeting new people! I honestly wasn’t expecting this, but ever since I started blogging, I’ve made friends from all over the world. How cool is that?

Have you ever experienced ‘bloggers block’ or a slump in motivation? How have you overcome this challenge?

Oh, I have been through blogger’s block many times! I think the best way to overcome it is to embrace it. Don’t force it. Step back if you need to. It’s okay to take a break every once and a while (some would even say it’s healthy, even!). If you’re blocker, there’s probably a reason. Try to identify it and work with that!

Where do you see your blog taking you in the future? What are your goals for the next few months/years?

​ I’m actually in a bit of a blog crisis. I’ve been a college blogger for over two years now, and as I’m approaching graduation, I’m not sure what this blog is going to become. I do not think I’ll remain a college blogger, though I might still write college advice posts every once in a while. I think I might become more of a lifestyle blogger, who posts mostly about books and travel. My goal for the next year is really about growth. I’ve been trying super hard to grow my pageviews and get more people to my blog, and so far it has been working. I’m still considered a fairly small blogger though, so I hope I can continue to grow my blog so it can get where I want it to be!

What is your favorite part about the creative process? (i.e. do you have a favorite step in the blog post writing process, a favorite topic or style, etc.)

I just love writing posts. The main reason why I am majoring in communications is because I love writing, so writing posts is definitely something that I love about blogging! Once I have an idea in mind, I am unstoppable, haha.

If you could pick three words to sum up your blogging journey, what would they be?

​ ​Eye-opening, learning, fun.

 Who are the creators or people in your life that inspire you?

​ There are so many! Kerstin from Miss Getaway is the blogger that made me start blogging, and I’ve always admired her. It’s been amazing to see how far she has gotten over the years! Helene from Helene in Between and Erica from Coming Up Roses are two bloggers that I look up to. They have such a strong brand and voice! I also love my friend Sara from Sara Laughed. She is a crazy talented writer and she’s an inspiration!

I’m so glad that I got the chance to interview Amélie about her blogging journey! Check out her blog and social media channels!
Check out the other interviews in the series here!
©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Interview: Makaela from Uniquely Mickie

In my blogging journey, I have become increasingly interested in learning about how other bloggers started their blogs and what they have been able to accomplish. I decided to reach out on Twitter about an interview series, and the interest was more than I ever could have expected!

I decided to start a new series on my blog to interview all of these amazing creators about their blogs, their goals, and more!

So without further ado, here is the first interview in the series!

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Makaela of Uniquely Mickie

 

Hello, my name is Makaela. In my 21 years of life, I have lived in 8 different places in two continents. While I love to travel and would love to continue to do so after college, I spend most of my time now juggling a social life and the homework that comes with being in pharmacy school. This site is dedicated to highlighting the beauty of growth as well as college, fashion, and beauty as seen through my eyes.

 

What is your favorite song at the moment?

My favorite song at the moment is Run Me Dry by Bryson Tiller.

What is your favorite type of food (or types if there are ties!)?

I either love pizza or I love a Chik-fil-a sandwich with cheese on it.

Coffee, tea, neither, or both?

I don’t like coffee or tea, but I love a good hot chocolate!

Do you prefer to hand write or to type?

I prefer to hand write certain things like my school notes or a to-do checklist, but I also love my computer when I’m in a hurry to write something down.
What is your favorite season?

My favorite season is Fall because I love how the weather changes and that I get to wear big, oversized sweaters while drinking hot chocolate.

What is your favorite book (or one that you would recommend at the moment)?

My favorite book is actually a series, which is the Harry Potter series. I’m so obsessed with the storyline and the characters.
Any fun facts you want to share? 

A fun fact about me is that I’ve shaved my head for cancer twice. I donated my hair to different organizations to help cancer patients.

When did you start your blog, and what was the reasoning behind it? Similarly, what was the inspiration behind your blog/brand name (and did you find it difficult to create)?

I started my blog in May 2017 finally. I’ve always wanted to start a blog, but my first attempt failed and I lost motivation to continue writing on that platform. But I recently had the urge to try again and created my blog Uniquely Mickie. My blog name actually came from my current instagram handle. I thought it was fun so I just decided to use it for my blog name too.

When you first started blogging, did you have a goal in mind for where you wanted it to (or thought it would) take you? Have you reached that goal or changed it?

When I started my blog, I definitely had a few goals in my mind some of which are a work in process. Like I wanted to get to 50,000 page views in less than a year, but right now I’m averaging around 4,000 page views. I also wanted to create an income from my blog, which I have started to do, but I would love to see it grow each month.

What did you know about blogging before you started? What were the resources you used to find out more?

Before I started my blog, I would just blog stalk on Pinterest on everything that I found useful and saved in a blogging board for later. So when I started my blog, I went back to those resources and they really helped me a long my journey of starting a profitable blog.

Where do you find your inspiration to continue blogging? Has your inspiration stayed the same since you started your blog?

I don’t really need to find inspiration to blog, because I genuinely love blogging and connecting with others over the internet. My inspiration has definitely stayed the same since I started blogging back in May.

What is your favorite social media platform or method of communication with your readers? What about the platform makes it your favorite?

I love connecting with my readers through Instagram and Twitter. It’s so fun to talk to people and really learn more about the people in your niche or readers.  

If you had to sum up everything that you have learned about blogging to tell someone new to the community, what would you tell them?

If I had to sum up the information that I’ve learned, I would tell a beginner to just go for it. Blogging takes time, patient, and a whole lot of experimenting what works for you and your readers. The best part about blogging is the connections that you make in your community that you get to build from the ground up. It’s a great experience! So if you’re thinking of blogging or starting a Youtube channel, then go for it 100%!  

Where do you see your blog taking you in the future? What are your goals for the next few months/years?

In the future, I would love to see my blog to grow to 50,000 pageviews and earn a livable income from blogging. But I would love to see my brand and blog grow to the point where I get to attend really cool events, like blogging networks, panels, or fashion shows. I would also love to work with brands in commercial or in videos on their platforms to get my face and name out to the public more. It’s a crazy idea, but I’m willing to go alone the journey to get there.

What is your favorite part about the creative process? (i.e. do you have a favorite step in the blog post writing process, a favorite topic or style, etc.)

My favorite part of the creative process is a tie between making pinterest pins or actually writing the blog content itself. I love writing so I could write for days on any topic that I’m truly interested in, but I’m also slightly creative so making images is really fun too. 

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If you would like to learn more about Makaela, you can connect to her blog and her social media on UniquelyMickie! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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How to Gain a Twitter Following

I still remember the day that I signed up for Twitter for my blog–I had no idea what I was doing! I signed up and started to look around at all the features, feeling a profound sense of confusion at the whole thing.

Now (two years later), Twitter has become my favorite social media platform for my blog. I’ve received a lot of questions over the years about how I have grown my Twitter following and what I use Twitter for, so I thought I would write a post about my experience!

Whether you’re completely new to Twitter, or if you’re looking for new ways to engage with the platform (there is a lot more to Twitter than just tweeting!), I hope you find this post helpful and informative!

Following others on Twitter

One of the first things you will want to do as a new Twitter user is follow other accounts. This process sounds simple, but Twitter is a social media platform that makes comparison and follower numbers really easy to get caught up in. Every time that you follow a new account, remember that your intention should be that you are genuinely engaged in the content that this creator has.

By following other creators that you are genuinely interested in, you will start to form community (which is one of Twitter’s best strongpoints!). When you’re on your main Twitter profile page, on the lefthand side you will be able to see a box called “Who to Follow”. By clicking “view all” in this box, you will be redirected to a page that lets you view accounts that Twitter recommends.

When you first start out on Twitter, don’t worry too much about how many accounts you’re following. Make it your goal to genuinely engage with these accounts over following as many as possible.

This is where one of my favorite aspects of Twitter comes in: building community. When I started a blog, I thought that the only community I would have is between me and my readers but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

I found so many bloggers who inspired me to be the best that I could be, and to work hard towards my goals. All of this through following them on Twitter and reaching out via Direct Messages (DMs) and engaging with their amazing content!

The other half of this starting out process has to do with your own profile, and tips to make it stand out to others (so that you receive that engagement in return, and connect with others who reach out to you!).

Creating your Twitter profile

One of the most important aspects of a Twitter profile is your bio. Not only does it tell fellow Twitter users about who you are and what you do, it’s what shows up on the screen that encourages users to follow you! I love reading through bios of other users, and over time have crafted mine to convey who I am and what people will read if they follow me.

Your biography has character limitations (much like an actual Tweet), so it’s important to include all of the key features you want to highlight! I highly recommend using the Twitter app on your phone to craft this bio, because then you can use fun emojis and other symbols to add to your overall aesthetic!

Using Twitter: RT, Likes, etc.

One of the main ways to use Twitter is to convey your thoughts, and connect with those of others. What I love most about this is when you have a community of people who support each other and who bond over similar ideas.

I often compose tweets on my phone (mostly because I can use the emoji features of my keyboard). One of the common questions is when and when not to use hashtags, and it took me quite some time to figure out a balance that worked well for me. I don’t like every tweet to have a hashtag, but if I am publishing my work (a new blog post) or the work of someone else (celebrating the successes of others is a great thing!), then I love to include as many hashtags as I can fit with the character limit.

Something important to remember is that the order of your tweet actually does matter to a certain extent. It’s best to use @user [if applicable] +tweet text + content link + hashtags. When I first started out on Twitter, I remember that the hashtags I used didn’t work when I put them somewhere else in the tweet, and the link would often not work if I put it after the hashtags.

When you scroll through Twitter, you can like, respond to, and Retweet the content that others post. I mostly like and respond to posts when I scroll through Twitter (it’s an amazing way to start a conversation–the other day I joined a conversation about favorite types of pasta and why)! Retweeting is a great way to show that you absolutely loved the content that someone produced, and that you want your audience to give it a look. This puts the tweet on your timeline of posts. You can also “quote” a tweet when you Retweet it, meaning that you add your own explanation or food for thought above the original tweet itself.

You can also participate in something widely known as FollowFriday (#FF), where you tweet the hashtag followed by a list of people that you think others should follow. This is an amazing way to recognize amazing content being produced by others, and to grow community!

Using Twitter: Twitter chats

This is one of my absolute favorite parts of Twitter, and why it is my favorite social media platform over Instagram, Facebook, and others. Twitter chats are scheduled meetings of Twitter users to discuss a topic at a certain time in the day/week/month.

The first Twitter chat that I ever joined was #BloggingCollege. I accidentally stumbled upon it after seeing another blogger tweet using that hashtag. I clicked on the hashtag and was brought to a page where everyone was discussing (in real time) a topic related to blogging in college. I joined the chat on a whim and never looked back! I made amazing friends and found so many other amazing blogs to follow along with over the next two years.

I have also found other Twitter chats that I have loved, and this is where the feeling of community grew for me. In fact, something super exciting is that I was able to meet a blogger  (Sara from Sara Laughed!) in real life that I had originally met through #BloggingCollege! I kept thinking of how my life would be so different had I not started blogging–but it’s also true to say that it would be quite different if I hadn’t found Twitter!

 

The tricky aspect: The numbers game

The hardest part about any social media–Twitter definitely included–is the numbers game and comparison. It’s so easy to become disheartened by numbers (this has definitely happened to me in the past, and in all honesty is still happening with sites like Instagram). What’s important to remember is that engagement is more important than numbers. The number of people who engage with your content (like, RT, reply, etc.) is demonstrative of the community that you have built.

As best as you can, try to ignore the numbers and instead focus on engaging with others and using Twitter as a platform that you truly enjoy. I love all of the opportunities that Twitter has for growth and for meeting others!

What is your favorite part about Twitter? Do you have a chat or user to recommend? Also feel free to leave your twitter handle below so that I can follow your updates! 🙂

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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Reverse Bucket List: 2017

I did one of these posts quite a long time ago! (*Looks back at archives to see when it was*…December 30th, 2015…woah!) This list was more of an overarching list of things that I have done throughout my entire life, so I wanted to make one devoted just to 2017 because it has been quite the year! I also wanted to update you on items that I have now crossed off my bucket list, and share new ones with you!

My Reverse Bucket List for 2017: 

  • Did a New Years birdwatching hike in Vermont (it was really cold but so beautiful!)
  • Visited a wildlife conservation center in Florida
  • Pet a camel face to face (they’re adorable)
  • Held a pig (one of the best moments!)
  • Made an entire loaf of bread from scratch with friends in the early hours of the morning
  • Solo traveled to Kansas for an internship
  • Finished my second year of college
  • Successfully started a storm generator
  • Made vegan pancakes as a spontaneous midnight snack
  • Traveled solo to Chile and stayed for 6 weeks (Talca, Concón, Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, Iquique, and Santiago)–made amazing friends here and had such an amazing adventure!
  • Experienced winter in June and July for the first time (it was the first time I was in the southern hemisphere during these months)
  • Tried vegan sushi
  • Traveled solo to Costa Rica
  • Participated in a Save the Frogs! Ecotour in Costa Rica (post coming soon–it was amazing!)
    • Conquered my fear of spiders
    • Saw the inner workings of an ant colony
    • Went to a volcano and volcanic hot springs
    • Learned how to make coffee and hot chocolate
    • Spotted my first frog during a night hike
    • Did a night hike in the cloud forest that ended with homemade vegan pizza
    • Went on a crocodile boat tour
  • Changed my nose stud to a ring
  • Adopted fish with my best friend
  • Ordered vegan pizza at 11pm after setting up the fish tank
  • Sand boarded at the Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Stayed in a drive-in movie theater hotel (where you could watch the movie from your room window)
  • Walked through a freezing cold river to see a waterfall
  • Picked peaches in Vermont
  • Won a gallon (yes an entire gallon!) of maple syrup
  • Went on three new hikes in Vermont
  • Stumbled upon (quite literally) an amazing local music group
  • Drove up to Canada for a flight and ate at an amazing Italian restaurant (we got a bit lost on the way, but we lived the adventure!)
  • Traveled solo to Amsterdam
    • Joined a free walking tour and managed to navigate to it
    • Met a blogging friend for a day in the city (such an amazing time!)
    • Had Belgian fries
    • Tried Indonesian food for the first time (it’s incredible)
    • Visited a Buddhist tea house
    • Stayed in a hostel and watched the sun set from a hammock
    • Made new friends on a broken down train
    • Connected with an amazing group while helping them buy metro tickets (we all spoke Spanish)
  • Traveled solo to Serbia
  • Started my study program and third year of college
  • Had vegan dark chocolate ice cream
  • Studied at a bookstore cafe
  • Celebrated my 21st birthday
  • Learned how to navigate and live in a big city for the first time

Now I wanted to update you on things that I have completed from my bucket list (that I wrote back in December of 2015): 

  • Live and travel in Europe (I am living here for a few months so I consider this to be somewhat completed, though I would like to spend more time here in the future!)
  • Travel to Chile
  • Start a YouTube channel and film my adventures
  • Make lasting connections around the world
  • Get a nose piercing (well, I wrote get a cartilage piercing which I still want, but this was close!)
  • Learn how to speak Italian (I’m a couple of years into this process and am also starting Serbian!)

What is on my bucket list at the moment: 

  • Live on my own in an apartment or small home for some time
  • Rescue a senior dog (or two or three) when I can financially do so
  • Volunteer at a Farm Sanctuary
  • Write a book (which may already be in progress… 🙂 )
  • Start my own non-profit business
  • See The Script and One Republic in concert
  • Write for a publication or magazine (vegan based is the dream!)
  • Visit Prague
  • Live in Parma, Italy
  • Do more live videos for my blog

And more items that I’m sure will come up! I would love to see your reverse bucket lists and regular bucket lists! Leave them in the comments or leave a link to a blog post! 🙂

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

 

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21 Things I’ve Learned at 21

I absolutely love the theme of this post, and funnily enough I think I skipped it for my 20th birthday last year! I think there is something so rewarding about reflecting on our experiences in life, and sharing them with others. I know that I love to read what other people have learned over the course of their lives!

This year has been quite a whirlwind for me–so many new experiences and a level of comfort in myself and my world that I hadn’t experienced previously. My birthday came quickly this year, and more generally the time felt as though it went by faster!

So without further ado, here are 21 things that I have learned at 21:

1. Change is inevitable–we must learn to adapt

For many years my life stayed relatively consistent. I went to the same school for consecutive years, had the same schedule, went to the same places, etc. Any amount of change would be accompanied with undue levels of stress and discomfort. Sitting in the unknown was the most uncomfortable feeling, and I would run to the nearest form of familiarity.

When I got to college, it was all thrown out the window. I was in a new place with a new schedule, new people, new classes, new routines, changing routines, and new dynamics. Each day something would fill me with a sense of panic and discomfort, and I would fight against the desire to run and hide in the past. After a while, I started to become more comfortable with discomfort. I would allow myself to be in it, and to feel it despite the challenges. During my second semester I traveled on my own for the first time, staying with people I didn’t previously know and experiencing a new life for a week (on an internship). This experience created a new side of me, one that liked to jump in the deep end and learn how to swim in each current (this is a funny analogy because swimming is not my favorite activity…).

This year I became a part of so many new environments and experiences that I have honestly lost count. In fact, in the past few months the unknown has been the only consistent element of my journey. Every day comes with new challenges, but I no longer feel the need to hide in the known.

2. You can choose to be happy

This past year–though one of the most challenging in many ways–has definitely been my happiest. My days were long, but always filled with sources of joy. My friends, my family, my college community, my classes (studying my passions), and my journeys.

I used to think that happiness was the ultimate destination–something that I would achieve sometime in the future. But happiness is the now, and it’s the everyday. The weather, a cup of coffee, laughter. Happiness is something we can choose to have, not aspire to acquire.

3. Vitamins are essential

This might seem like an odd thing to say that I’ve learned–but vitamins have had such a positive impact on my health this year in particular. When I got back from my summer travels, I found that I was feeling quite off and more exhausted than usual. I did some research and started a new vitamin regimen, and wow has it made a difference! It’s also led to some funny moments (the surprise of airline agents when they see that half my carry on luggage is supplements…).

4. The universe works in interesting ways

In my experiences this year, I have found that the universe seemed to bring me everything I needed at the most opportune times. This is not to say that these moments were purely magical and perfect in nature, but each moment gave me something important. From making networking connections with people at the same metro ticket kiosk to meeting other world travelers on a stalled train in Amsterdam (getting help from travelers who spoke Dutch to figure out how to get on another train after a long travel day)–even chaotic moments brought positivity in some form.

5. Shop with a positive purpose

This year I was fortunate enough to discover local organizations that sell consignment and used clothing, and who use the proceeds to continue a cycle of community support. I have mixed up my wardrobe more times this year than consecutive years in the past, and have saved money while supporting organizations for change. I have also traded in my clothing for new outfits, and shopping has changed from a chore to something that I truly enjoy! I encourage you to find local consignment and thrift organizations to support–and to give your wardrobe a new look (and in doing so give someone else the chance to do the same)!

6. Less is more

You may recognize this quote from a documentary that premiered on Netflix called Minimalism. One week in the spring semester I decided to give this documentary a watch and it completely changed how I saw my life. For a long time, material possessions were something that I was really fond of (I used to perseverate on things until I could save up enough money to buy them). The result? Bins and bins and bins and bins of things that I forgot I even owned. After my journey of shopping with a purpose, I started to question the value of owning something that you couldn’t actually use on a regular basis.

I was able to sell and donate so many items for others to use in more constructive ways (I had clearly forgotten about them, and thus they were not adding value to my own life). Soon I was left with items I used every day, and getting rid of four times as much as I acquired (and if I did acquire things they were usually consumable). The morning that I woke up after a weekend-long process of clearing out, I felt physically lighter. I switched on my well-used water heater for coffee in my favorite mug, and put on my favorite Spotify playlist (because clutter comes in digital forms too!).

I used to think that things could make me happy. By giving them up I released a burden I never knew I carried.

7. Home can be more than one place

I wrote about this a few weeks ago (now that I think about it, it was probably a few months ago and time just keeps flying by like that). After traveling for months on end (and to still be traveling), home has become a concept more than a location. I used to think that going home was returning to where I grew up every so often while in college. But home became so much more. Home became my friends, my family, my college, my college town, multiple states, multiple places. Home became something that I could create anywhere–a concept that travels with me. Long discussions with friends and family, making new connections, reflecting on my experiences, creating the familiar in the unfamiliar.

8.Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely

2017 has been the year of solo travel for me, and one of the questions that I often get is about feeling alone. I have rarely experienced feelings of loneliness during my travels, and have actually found it to be an amazing way to connect with others and make new connections internationally! I also enjoy being able to take the time to reflect on my experiences!

9. Spontaneity often kindles life’s best moments

A few years ago, I was not at all a fan of spontaneity. I am a planner at heart, and for a long time I thrived on established schedules. But when I think about the best moments in my life, most of them came from spontaneous decisions and have left a lasting impression! I’ve learned that there is a wonderful balance to be found between planning and going with the flow of life.

10. The breath is a powerful element of holistic health

This year I started a commitment to a meditation practice, and it has changed my life for the better. The breath is something that is always with us, but that we are hardly aware of. Our breath changes as we experience different things, and can often be a root indicator of stress. By controlling our breath we control what we let into our emotional lives.

11. Sometimes having no plan is the best plan

This goes with spontaneity, but is also a reference to travel. I have had the best experiences when I arrive with a loose plan (lodging and some logistics). I arrived in Amsterdam with very little sense of what my week there was going to entail, and I left with some of the best memories and new friends!

12. Don’t fill your schedule just for the sake of being busy

This is something that I learned over the course of my college career so far, and I am so glad that I did! There is definitely a difference between being busy and having a schedule full of things that you love to do. When you fill your time with things that add value and meaning to your life, you find that the days, months, and years fly by!

13. Laughter is the best remedy for a bad day

Laughter is underrated–it can turn your day around and make you feel connected to the world once more. When was the last time that you laughed so hard that you cried and couldn’t breathe? Make it a goal to laugh at least once every day!

14. Creativity inspires creativity

Since becoming a blogger I have noticed creative blocks more than ever, and over the course of the year have discovered that seeing creativity inspires my own. When I feel lost creatively, I look at all of the amazing work that creators of all mediums are doing. It inspires me to try new things, which often sparks new avenues of creativity!

15. Live the adventure

This year I have embraced adventure more than ever, and it has inspired me to find it wherever I go. No matter where I am, I find that adventure is out there! (Love that quote from UP!) Live the Adventure is originally from creator Louis Cole, and I love what he has done (along with so many others!) to live a life of adventure and purpose!

16. Kindness goes a long way

It costs nothing to be kind, and kindness has a way of brightening the world like rims of water on a pond. Kindness is a ripple effect, and something that we can always use more of in this world. Everyone displays kindness in different ways (I love to connect with people every day, and I show my compassion towards animals with my vegan lifestyle). Embrace your own kindness and share it with the world!

17. Self-love can transform your life

I have been on a long journey with self-love, and only recently has it been a positive one. It took me years and years to embrace qualities and aspects that I could only see as flaws, and to accept myself as I truly am. When I made that switch, it’s like the lens I saw my life through completely changed. Everything was brighter, lighter, and happier. It is a hard journey to follow, but it has completely changed my path and how I relate to the world.

18. Everyone has something to teach you

I learned this the most this year, though I have always thought it to be true. Everyone that you meet has something to teach you. Regardless of anything, everyone has experiences to share and wisdom to impart. Listen to the stories and experiences of others, and you will find connection and knowledge is abundant!

19. Always show your appreciation

You can never show enough appreciation, and oftentimes it can make a huge difference in someone’s day! It is so easy to take the support and love that we receive on a daily basis for granted, and expressing your appreciation can help you stay grounded in gratitude and happiness.

20. Dreaming and reflecting rekindle inspiration

Whenever I feel like I have lost my direction in any aspect in life, I like to journal and write down my dreams and goals. It helps me to think about what I really want, and inspires me to start taking the steps to get there!

21. Work hard to change your world

Sometimes it feels as though we are too small to make a difference, but we are strong. We have the power to change the way our world works. Find what you are passionate about, and follow the path of change. I went vegan for this reason, and I have never looked back. Sometimes it may feel impossible, but no voice and no impact is too small.

I hope you liked this post! I loved reflecting on what I have learned, and I would love to hear what you have learned over the years of your life! I am currently quite busy on my semester abroad, but I hope to post as regularly as I can and keep you all updated on the happenings!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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OzNaturals Vegan Skincare: Travel Review

I received the OzNaturals vegan skincare products mentioned in this post in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for supporting The Wise Willow!

As you may have gathered by now, I am quite obsessed with natural skincare products, and when I became vegan I found that it was even harder to find skincare products that traveled well and made a noticeable difference in the health of my skin (I have always had combination skin that definitely acts up when I travel or make other lifestyle adjustments).

Lately I have been making a fair few lifestyle adjustments, and in the process I have tried to maintain my skin as much as possible. This can definitely be challenging with changing temperatures and sleeping patterns! I was looking for products that would allow me to establish a routine, as well as ones that I could use on the go during long travel days.

OzNaturals kindly sent me a few of their summer skincare products, and wow have they made a difference in how my skin feels on a daily basis! Just this week I have had a few long travel days, with inner city exploring in between! In fact, I leave on another plane in a matter of hours.

When I travel my skin alternates between being quite dry (usually from the airplane journey) to feeling oily from hours of nonstop travel. After long journeys I also notice tightness around my eyes, which makes me feel even more tired than I actually am (this would also happen to me from late nights of reading during the semester).

I took these products with me when I began my journey, and I wanted to share how they have helped me stay healthy and feeling refreshed despite long travel hours!

Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum (30mL): 

This facial serum contains Vitamin C (something I have always looked for in skincare products, because it is quite refreshing!), Vitamin E (which has amazing restorative properties!), Rose Hips, Green Tea (caffeine is also good for the skin), and Hyaluronic acid. This has been wonderful in keeping my skin even, and eliminating the excess oil that tends to accumulate after being in changing temperatures and modes of transport. The best part, though, is that it doesn’t excessively dry out my skin! This is something that many of the serums I have used in the past do. Also, it is a vegan product with no animal testing or animal derived ingredients. (Curious about the difference between cruelty-free and vegan products? Cruelty free essentially means that no animal testing was used to make the product, while vegan means this and that no animal derived ingredients are used. A product can be cruelty-free and not vegan, for example (as it might contain something like carmine, which is a derivative of an insect that is commonly found in lipsticks and other cosmetics with bright red colors).

Super Youth Eye Gel (15mL): 

As I mentioned before, my eyes are definitely affected by long travel days and long days of studying. The tightness does not help with already feeling quite fatigued. This eye gel is the best for feeling refreshed after a long flight without a lot of effort! I have also found that it has aided with getting over jetlag, or generally feeling more exhausted than usual. The tightness and dryness of my eyes has been reduced, and I have found that I am also less sensitive to wind and other elements that would sometimes give me allergy-like symptoms. This eye gel contains Matrixyl Synthe 6, Plant Stem Cells, Peptide Complex, Hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin E. It is both effective and soothing, and definitely worth it if you find that you have tired eyes from different routines or travel!

Sweet Almond & Macadamia Nut Body Butter (237mL):

This might be the favorite product for me out of the bunch, but that’s because I absolutely love lotions (especially ones that smell as good as this one does!). Sometimes I neglect to take care of my skin in general during busy times, and this is a great addition to my nighttime routine that allows me to unwind after a long day. The best part about this lotion (besides it being vegan of course, which is hard to find!) is that a little goes a long way. Some lotions take a few applications to work well, but this lotion includes both a generous amount of product and an amount that will last through many trips. It contains Shea Butter, Avocado Oil, and Kakui Nut Oil for a perfect balance that isn’t too heavy nor too light (another combo that is hard to find!).

I am about to start my semester abroad, and I am so glad that I will be able to continue my skincare routine no matter where I am! If you would like to find out more about OzNaturals and their mission, you can look here for more information! I am also writing a post full of self-care travel tips, which will be posted in the near future!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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How I Prepared for my Study Abroad

This post is sponsored by ClassTracker, and I received a copy of the planner in exchange for my honest review. There are also affiliate links featured in the post, through which I may receive a commission for purchases made through them. Thank you for supporting what makes The Wise Willow possible! 

Where did the summer go? I feel like just last month I was leaving my room in college and getting ready for my summer travels! Now it is the 23rd of August and normally I would be moving back into a dorm on campus and getting ready for the semester. But this semester is different, and it’s hard to believe that it came so quickly. I am packing my bags once again and getting ready to go to Serbia for the semester! This can be quite the process, so I wanted to share how I’m going about it for anyone who might be going through the same thing!

Planning, Planning, and More Planning

A lot of planning goes into a regular college semester, and even more goes into a semester abroad. More extraneous logistics and details have to be figured out ahead of time, but it’s all more than worth it. However, I’m not one of those people who can remember everything that they have to do without help. Which is why I love planners so much! I was looking for a new planner to use for this school year, and the ClassTracker planner is the perfect fit.

I was looking for a minimalist planner that would allow me to write down everything I need to do in a way that would be easy to decipher when I take quick glances at my to-do list (has anyone else taken a look at their to-do list and felt completely lost?). I have made many lists that make it hard to remember what to prioritize and when, but the ClassTracker planner has many sections in the weekly layout for all of these details!

Each day I will fill in the top “remember to” panel with important logistics that are usually unrelated to my studies (for example, “remember to send _____ email or remember to go to the store to get more almond milk”). Then there is a space for “quizzes/exams/papers/projects” which I haven’t been filling out yet for the most part as I learn more about my classes upon my arrival.

The “assignments” space is the one I use the most at the moment to keep track of the pre-semester reading assignments and my progress. I write down the specific sections I am going to read each day to make sure that I stay on track. The bottom “activities” section is quite helpful for remembering what other commitments I have each day as I prepare to leave. The monthly pages let me plan big events (like my study abroad departure date!) and keep the big picture in mind.

Preparing to go abroad can be an overwhelming task, but planning really does help to alleviate a lot of the stress that comes along with it! From remembering what to pack to keeping up with reading, writing it down gives me peace of mind that I will have everything I need for my journey. I highly recommend this planner for all of your academic and activity needs! There are a bunch of colors to choose from (I chose the coral color and it’s beautiful!) and it’s perfect for all kinds of students!

Preparing, Preparing, and More Preparing

Now that I have written everything down, it’s time for the actual prep! I received an email to my campus inbox (make sure you’re checking that regularly even though it’s still summer!) about all of the last minute details I would need to know for my program. I joined the online group and printed out the materials that I would need to read over (orientation guides and logistics). They also supplied a list of required and recommended reading materials. A study abroad semester makes this aspect a bit more difficult, as I wasn’t sure whether to look for electronic copies of all of the books that I needed to save space and weight in my luggage. However, I know myself as a student and know that used hardcopies work the best for me.

With that, I went to Textbooks.com to look at the prices of their books and they had all but one of the books I needed. I spent $20 on six books and was able to get the other one quickly from Amazon! They arrived faster than I thought they would, which gave me time to start the readings for the semester and to really reflect on the material. I also bought sticky notes, BIC Atlantis gel pens in black (my favorite pens ever–I’m someone who never uses pencil so I go through pens so fast! But these last for a long time and are super comfortable!), and a five-subject notebook so that I would only have to worry about carrying one notebook around with me. I also picked up two composition notebooks for homeworks that don’t need to be submitted, as I can use the paper in the notebook to turn in assignments. The last part of preparation, and possibly the hardest part, is packing.

Packing, Packing, and More Packing

Since I have just arrived back home from all of my travels I am a bit more prepared than I normally would be to start packing. However, this journey is four months long instead of two months and requires more logistical thinking.

To start, I determined how many bags I would be bringing with me. This is a really important step, because it determines the amount of space that you have to work with. When I traveled this summer, I took three total bags: a small waterproof backpack, another slightly larger backpack from SOLO NY, and a SOLO NY duffel bag/backpack combo. This was perfect for two full months of travel–but since I will be bringing a few more things and school materials I knew I would need more space.

So I have decided to bring the following: my small waterproof backpack (this is the perfect bag for valuables!), a large backpacking bag from Eagle Creek (I got this from a thrift store for $30!), and a small rolling luggage piece for my books and other materials. Now that I know how much space I have to work with, I can start the more complicated part!

For clothes, I checked the forecast for Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo as well as the recommended packing list sent by my program. I allocated my entire backpack and a small portion of my rolling bag for clothing–given that I need four months worth and clothing for different temperatures. I also looked on Pinterest and through my copy of Organizing for Your Lifestyle (if you haven’t seen my minimalist travel tips check out the post here!) for packing inspiration and space-efficient ideas.

I am also bringing all of my supplements (I recently changed up the ones I am using due to what I discovered about my wellness and travel–post coming soon!) and will put these in the rolling bag. I highly recommend bringing all of your supplements and normal wellness remedies with you to make sure that you stay balanced among the changes that come with travel!

Finally, I made sure that all of my important documentation was copied and kept in multiple places to be on the safe side. I also made sure I completed all of my preparations for the semester, and had all of the materials that my program required (an unlocked smartphone that is SIM compatible, for example).

Are you studying abroad or preparing for a new semester? What are your preparation tips? Let me know in the comments!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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Alyssa DeBella

21 | Lifestyle blogger | Minimalist | Dreamer ✨| Language Lover 💕| Animal Obsessed ❤️🐶| Double Major 📚| Vegan 🌱 |Traveler ✈️ (currently in: Europe)
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