6 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy Abroad

This post has not been sponsored. There are affiliate links within this post, which means that I get a percentage of a purchase you make when you click on them. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wise Willow possible! (Also, as always, everything I promote I personally love! 🙂 )

When it comes to traveling abroad, there are many things to consider. Location, clothing, emergency planning, work, and sightseeing. But maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something that most people forget to consider prior to going abroad.

As you all know, I observe a vegan lifestyle. I also love to travel. My declaration of this combo is often met by many with “good luck” and “you will probably end up reverting back to a ‘regular’ diet,” but I am here to tell you that maintaining your current lifestyle abroad is both possible and important.

Seeing as I am currently abroad, I wanted to give you a list of things to consider in order to stay healthy while abroad.

Know your Limits

Regardless of what lifestyle you observe, nobody knows your health better than you do. You know how much you can change without upsetting your body’s natural rhythm, and that should be your first consideration.

For me, I know that I must avoid consuming meat and dairy products to avoid major imbalances. But, I can generally change the time of day that I eat without experiencing problems (I attribute that to my very varied college schedule! 😛 ).

Research and Prepare

Many people forget to think about what resources their destination will have prior to arriving. As a vegan, this was something that I wanted to research ahead of time. Arriving hungry and without viable options is definitely something that you want to avoid! I learned that Chile’s agriculture laws prevent anyone from bringing in food items to the country, and am so glad I knew this ahead of time.

I was able to eat at the airport before my long flight, and make sure I wasn’t brining any items that could have caused me problems upon my arrival with customs.

I had also informed as many people as possible about my dietary restrictions and health preferences ahead of time. Something that I considered after I arrived (and was adjusting to the food) is remembering to eat foods as similar to my diet back in college as possible. I didn’t do this for the first week or so (lots and lots of rice and bread, which I have to admit I love). The result was that I felt very drowsy and unbalanced all week long, and I am still trying to regain the balance that I had during the semester. It takes a lot of self control to reach for more fruit after a long day (I really want to treat myself to bread sometimes!) but if I am feeling a bit unbalanced already I know that eating these other foods will be better in the long run.

Be prepared to politely decline offered food

As a vegan (and someone that has a sensitivity to dairy), declining offered food is something I do many times per day. This can be quite difficult at times, as you don’t want to seem ungracious. However, it’s important to maintain your diet in all situations (especially if you have it for sensitivity reasons).

In as many circumstances as possible, I quickly explain the reason for my declaration and assure them not to worry about it at all (as I have often eaten beforehand). I love to offer to buy ingredients and cook meals, as cooking is one of my hobbies and it makes me feel as though I am contributing instead of creating special circumstances for meals. 🙂

Think about how to realistically commit to an exercise regimen

This is one of the most difficult aspects, especially if you are traveling to multiple places or never in one consistent location. For me, I am staying for at least one month in most places and have the opportunity to create a schedule for exercise. However, I have learned that walking is one of the best modes of exercise that you can engage in everywhere. I walk as many places as possible, loving the combination of the fresh air and the exercise. 🙂 If you have access to internet, Blogilates and Yoga with Adriene are amazing resources for staying fit in a small space! Definitely check them out!

As I mentioned in my most recent travel post, it’s important to also be open to spontaneous opportunities! For example, I went to a zumba lesson on my first full day here and had a blast! I met so many new people and it was an amazing workout!

Be prepared with snacks throughout the day

Regardless of your dietary preferences, being prepared with snacks throughout the day is super important for keeping balance and for fighting off low blood sugar moments! As a vegan, this can be a challenge. However, GoMacro bars are both delicious and portable! They have a lot of flavors (cashew caramel is one of my favorites, and if you know me you know I’m a bit obsessed with cashews…). These bars are available on many different sites, including Amazon and ThriveMarket! (If you want to get a subscription to Thrive, it’s very easy and much like an online version of Costco with wellness items!).

Fresh fruits and veggies are also great options, and the possibilities are endless! Having snacks available is a great way to be able to eat while at gatherings or during work breaks.

Bring remedies and other natural products

In the past two weeks that I have been abroad, I have learned that it is a good idea to have remedies and medicines with you in order to recover as quickly as possible from inevitable ‘under the weather’ days. I have had a few recently, but have been able to get back on track with a few remedies and by eating more fresh fruits and veggies.

I hope that you enjoyed this post about staying healthy and fit while abroad! It is something that not many people think about ahead of time, but it’s so important for wellbeing and enjoying your experience!

What have you learned about staying healthy and fit while abroad or while traveling? I would love to know what you recommend!

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

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Two Weeks Abroad: What I’ve Learned

I have now been in Chile for about two weeks, and have already learned more than I thought possible. I have learned my way around the local community, and even got to take a weekend trip to the Chilean coast!

From prior solo trips, I learned that being confident and comfortable from the moment you land goes a long way! Asking questions and bringing your best to everything you do is the best way to get a strong start in a new community.

On my first full day in Chile (the 3rd of June), I was asked to go to a local zumba class. I accepted without second thought, knowing that the best way to adjust to the rush of feelings and overwhelm that I was experiencing would be to meet more people and learn my way around. Plus, dancing was a great way to start the trip off after flying for 23 hours! I met many new people, and the feelings of overwhelm started to lessen.

I had a full weekend before starting my work at the local school, which was great for getting accustomed to a new schedule. When I started my work on Monday, I felt prepared and ready to take on more change. I’ve learned that it’s important to plan ahead as much as possible, to make transitions less stressful. When you already have a lot of change, it’s better to make sure that you give yourself time to slowly adjust.

In the case of traveling to another country, the language adjustment adds a new dimension. During the first few days of my work at the school, I was taking naps for two or three hours when I returned for the day. I could feel my mind getting a workout from switching between English and Spanish so often. I no longer feel as mentally exhausted now that I am starting my second week helping in the classroom.

Maintaining my vegan diet has been easier than I initially thought, though there have been times when I have accidentally consumed something with dairy. Learning how to re-adjust my diet has posed some challenges, but I have to say the fruit and veggies here are the best that I have ever had. Maintaining an exercise regimen has also posed challenges, but I have a few tips that I will be sharing with you soon! (Very soon!) 🙂

Two weeks in, it’s easy for me to forget that I am just visiting for a short time. The community here is wonderful, and it has been more than I could have ever asked for. This past weekend I was able to travel to the coast (something that I wasn’t sure I would get the opportunity to do!) and it was one of the best weekends that I have had in a long time!

I did a small vlog of the trip to show you all the amazing places that I went, because it was simply too stunning not to film! I hope you enjoy it!

What have you learned from your travels (or from living) abroad? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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

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Mi Primer Día en Chile (2 Junio 2017)

Quiero escribir sobre mis experiencias durante este verano cuando ocurrieron porque viajes a cualquier lugar tiene ajustes y momentos que va a recordar por su vida.

Mi vuelo a Santiago de Chile empezó a las nueve de la noche ayer. Cuando encontré a mi asiento dentro del avión y puse mi maleta en su propio lugar, sonreí a la mujer que sienta al otro lado (¡no había alguien en el asiento del centro!). Ella sonrió también, y dice “habla español?” a que respondí “¡Si”. “Eres Chilano?” ella preguntó, y la conversación empezaba con mi respuesta de donde vengo. Hablo español por la duración del vuelo, y era un viaje cómodo.

Dormí por cuatro de las nueve horas, y cuando levanta esta mañana la gente tiene sus ventanas abiertas para ver a las montañas y el océano. Hablaba con esta mujer por el resto del vuelo, y ella era la persona más simpática que siento con en un avión en todo mi vida. Ella dice “¡Mira! A este lado (la izquierda) hay montañas grandes, y a este lado (la derecha) hay el océano. Chile es tan largo (ella muestra con sus manos) pero muy ancho!” . Lo que dijo era verdad, la naturaleza del país es diferente a algo que veo en el pasado. Cuando terminó el vuelo, ella dice “¡Quiero darte un beso! ¡Espero que viajes bien y que disfruta a esta país magnífica!”.

Tomé un bus por tres horas hasta el sur del país, y era una experiencia interesante para alguien que está viajando por primera vez en un lugar. Pero, hablo con la gente durante el viaje y miraba al película “The Martian” en español que fue presentando en el bus. Tomaba más café porque definitivamente estaba cansada, y finalmente conocer a la familia que estoy quedando con durante mi tiempo aquí.

Con esto, estaba en Chile. Es mi primer tiempo viajar sola por el mundo, y mentira si digo que no tiene miedo. Para viajar es algo que cambia a personas. Hay experiencias diferentes y muchas personas que conocerá durante sus viajes. Es mi primer día, y si en algunos aspectos hay mucho cambio. Casa, idioma, personas, países, tiempos de comer, horarios, y todo eso. Pero, pienso que viajar es uno de las cosas que cambian a la manera en que ve al mundo. He estudiado español hasta que tenía once años, y siento que fue tiempo para viajar y conectar con las culturas y personas que hablan sobre durante mis estudios.

Empieza mi tiempo ayudar en la escuela lunes, entonces tengo el fin de semana para disfrutar y ajustar.

Quiero terminar todos mis reflexiones con una lista de todo que estoy agradecida por durante mi tiempo aquí, porque si hay obstáculos y cosas difíciles pero lo que importa es las cosas que traigan comunidad y memorias.

Lo que estoy agradecida por hasta este punto en mis viajes: 

  • La mujer simpática en el vuelo, nunca voy a olvidar a ella
  • Las personas que me ayudan cuando estaba tomando los dos buses
  • Que tengo todo mi equipaje (no fue perdido durante el viaje)
  • Que puedo encontrar comida vegana sin problema aquí para mantener esta parte de mi vida
  • El apoyo de mis conexiones aquí en Chile, y de la familia que estoy quedando con
  • La oportunidad para ver al mundo, y la apoyo que tengo por mi misma para lo que siento

¡A próximo! 🙂

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I want to write about my experiences as they occur, because trips like these have adjustments and moments that you will remember for the rest of your life.

My flight to Santiago, Chile boarded at 9pm last night. When I boarded the plane and put my luggage in the overhead bin above my seat, I sat and smiled at the woman sitting on the other end (there wasn’t anyone in the middle, which gave us both extra room!). She smiled back and asked if I spoke Spanish, I responded with yes and she proceeded to ask if I was Chilean. Our conversation flowed from there, and after dinner I was able to sleep for four of the nine hours.

When I woke up in the morning, everyone had their windows open and was looking at the landscape. She looked over at me and said “Look! Out this side (the left) there are mountains, and out that side (right) there’s the ocean! While Chile is very long, it’s very skinny!”. What she said was true, it is by far one of the most unique landscapes that I have ever seen! When the flight landed, she turned to me and said “Let me give you a kiss! I hope you have great travels and that you enjoy your stay in this magnificent country!”

After I left the airport, I took two buses. The last bus ride was three hours long, and took me to Talca where I met my wonderful host family. During the bus ride, I talked with many people (and tried to keep up with their fast-paced Spanish!) and watched the movie “The Martian” that was playing on all of the screens.

With that, I was in Chile. It is my first time traveling the world alone, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at all. But traveling is something that changes people. It is my first day, and yes there are a lot of things that have changed. House, language, people, meal times, schedules, and more. But I think that traveling is something that changes the way that you see the world around you. I have been studying the Spanish language since I was eleven years old, and I felt like it was time to immerse myself in the places that I have learned so much about.

I start helping at the local school on Monday, so I have the weekend to relax and adjust. I want to end all of my posts with a list of all that I am grateful for, because although there might be obstacles and challenges, what matters most is remembering what brings us joy and happiness.

What I am grateful for at this point in my travels: 

  • The kind woman who sat near me on the plane and wanted to talk about my travels and wish me well, I will never forget her
  • The people who helped me navigate the airport and bus systems, and who wished me well in my travels
  • That all of my luggage arrived with me (none of it was lost in the journey)
  • That I can continue with my vegan diet here easily
  • The support of my connections here in Chile, and the host family that I am staying with
  • The opportunity to travel the world, and the support that I give to myself when I am feeling uncertain or overwhelmed

Until next time! 🙂

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

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The Art of Abandoning Your Comfort Zone

I will soon be leaving for what is the biggest adventure of my life to date, and I have been meaning to do a public reflection on what it means to me. As I have talked about before on this blog, leaving my comfort zone is something that 17 year old Alyssa would have done reluctantly. I enjoyed having a routine and a predictable life, but 20 year old me feels like it’s time to move on.

Back in spring of 2016 I took a huge leap and did a solo trip sponsored by my college to shadow an alum in Virginia. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, landing and staying with complete strangers on a whim and having an unpredictable life pattern for an entire week. It was invigorating, exhilarating, and left me feeling as though I could never go back to living a life of routine.

In the summer of 2017 I lived on my own for the first time, managing a 45 hour per week job and all of the maintenance that comes with being an ‘adult’. I grew leaps and bounds that summer, managing my finances, groceries, and building connections. I also got to spend the entire summer with my best friend which was absolutely amazing! 🙂

This past spring I did another solo travel trip, this time to Kansas, and had a great experience yet again. This gave me the confidence to apply for a study abroad term and to further pursue the adventures that I am about to have.

In high school my desire to travel the world grew as I followed travel bloggers and vloggers on their adventures. I never knew that one day that would be me.

As I set off on new adventures I can’t help but feel full of joy and excitement. I am following my dreams and my passions, and living in the present moment as I have learned to do over the past year.

I feel enriched and full of live, like I am truly living.

I can’t wait to bring you along with me as I embark on these adventures! I will be posting here on my blog, as well as on Twitter and Instagram. I will also be making more videos (hopefully), so feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel! 🙂

I would love to hear about how your recent journeys have brought you into alignment with your true self. <3

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

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Clothes: Minimal Packing to go Abroad

Since I will be leaving on my travels soon, I decided to film a video today of how I have been preparing! I will be abroad for two months this summer, and will be taking one bag of clothes, one bag of wellness items, and one carry-on!

In this first video, I explain all of the clothes that I am bringing with me (most of them are thrift store purchases!) and how I fit them all into one bag!

I have a few more days until my journey begins, and I wanted to update you on the process and how I have been preparing for the past week or so. I hope that you enjoy this post and video, and if you know of anyone preparing to travel soon feel free to send it their way! 🙂

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

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Vegan Sweet Potato Burgers: Recipe and Vlog!

 

I have been wanting to post more of the recipes that I have been making recently (now that I’m home!), and this was one that definitely had to be shared! I have always been a fan of recipes like this, but they usually take longer than I have time for. With this recipe though, there are options to make it take less time!

Since I had more time and regular sweet potatoes were on sale, I decided to take the time to prepare them. I peeled four potatoes and diced them into smaller sections. I placed these sections into a pot of boiling water, and let them boil for about twelve minutes (until softened). Once they were soft, I strained them into a ceramic bowl and mashed them.

I also prepared a box of quinoa (simmering for 15 minutes), and combined this with the sweet potato. Finally, I also added one can of black beans (slightly mashed). I stirred all of these ingredients together, and combined a paste of flaxseed meal and water (3T of water to 1T flaxseed meal) with the rest of the mixture to make them stick together more (flaxseed meal is a vegan egg replacement).

Once all of these ingredients were combined, I formed them into patties and placed them onto a heated pan with a small amount of olive oil. I cooked them for five to six minutes on each side, and placed them on a separate serving plate.

I toasted the hamburger buns, and took the sweet potato fries (that I made out of the leftover potatoes I bought) out of the oven. I decided to use my Hampton Creek Just Mayo (DELICIOUS vegan mayo!!) and local medium salsa as toppings, and it was so good!!

I decided to make a vlog to go along with this post as well, and I will be making a lot of videos in the near future! 🙂

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

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How to Be More Productive as a Student: 5 Tips by Guest Blogger Melanie of Unicorners.co

Today’s post is a guest post by Melanie of Unicorners.co, and is perfect for students currently going through final exams (like me!) or students planning to take summer courses. I am so excited to have her featured on my blog, and I know you will love this post! 🙂

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We all have them: days where we feel lazy and don’t want to do anything but to lay in bed and eat. If you feel like you are struggling daily to motivate yourself and get things done then this post might be exactly for you! I have tried so many different things to improve my productivity as a student. Now I want to share what has worked best for me. These are my top 5 tips on how to become more productive as a student.

1) Plan your day, week, and month

I can’t stress this one enough. It is my number one tip that I always share with people who feel sluggish and don’t really feel like doing anything. People tend to be very visual, and writing down all the tasks for the day seems to be very effective.

But don’t just plan the next day. Try to divide your workload into days or weeks. When seeing all the tasks you have to get done in a week you won’t feel like procrastinating that much because you know that each task that stays undone will fill the next day with even more tasks you don’t really want to do. This helped me to sit down and check things off the list step by step. It is a wonderful feeling when you look at the to-do list in the evening and everything is crossed out.

2) Set a timer

I wish I would have known that tip at the beginning of my studies because I struggled a lot to find a way to motivate myself. The problem was, that I sat on my desk the whole day literally just looking at all the notes in front of me. At the end of the day, I didn’t get a lot of things done but felt exhausted because I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, even though I studied a lot. If you just give yourself the span of a whole day you will never be as concentrated as if you set a timer and have a good break afterward.

I recommend trying the Pomodoro technique, but you can also just set the timer for 60 minutes. Turn off all devices, get everything off your desk and JUST STUDY. When the alarm goes off, get up and do something completely different. Allow yourself to do anything you really like in that short break. I like to set a timer for 60 minutes to study and then take 20 minutes to have a break. I get so much more done in a day now that I use this technique. I even feel like I enjoy studying because it is very intense and productive but I also have time to do whatever I feel like doing during the breaks.

3) Have something to look forward to

My days have become so much more productive when I started planning something for each evening. This might be going to your favorite café and eating that delicious piece of red velvet cake, or watching the new episode of your favorite tv show. I get so excited and work faster to be able to do whatever I want to do in the evening. Sometimes I even jump out of bed in the mornings and want to start as soon as possible because I just can’t wait to be finished with my work.

The tricky part is, that you have to be really strict and you have to have a lot of self-discipline. Otherwise, you won’t wait until the evening or until you finished that boring assignment. Having something to look forward to each day as a kind of reward, you will find it a lot easier to study hard.

4) The biggest workload comes first

This one is very important as well. I like to start with the easier tasks because it feels good to cross off things on the to-do list. But actually, it doesn’t do you any good, because after all the easy tasks you will feel tired and won’t feel like doing the really big and annoying task. Often we just procrastinate and leave it for the next day.

However, by starting with the biggest workload first, you won’t have that problem anymore. Your mind is the sharpest a few minutes after waking up. Using it for the biggest task will make it a lot easier to finish it fast. All the little tasks that come after will be done soon and you will feel satisfied in the evening.

5) Have a goal in your mind

This is not comparable to number 3 of this list. Number 3 is important for your everyday motivation. But – it can fail you on those days that you really want to buy a ticket, get on a plane and leave this country forever. That’s when this tip comes into play: have a bigger goal in your mind. This might be your dream job that you can only do if you finish your studies, or maybe the car you’ve been longing to buy but can’t afford if you don’t get a well-paying job after your graduation. This might even be the accomplishment of finishing your studies with a magna cum laude. Whatever it is, keep that in mind. If you are, like me, a very visual person, make a vision board. You can find a lot of examples online but the idea of a vision board is, to print pictures of your goals; your dream house, a job, a bag you want to buy, vacation etc. You can draw, pin and decorate whatever and however you like it. Put the vision board in front of your desk and look at it every day.

This helps me to do whatever it takes to get to my goals.

I hope my 5 tips on how to become more productive as a student have helped you! Tell me your favorite tip, as I like to get in touch with my readers.

Love,

Melanie

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Melanie is 23 years old, a half Colombian and half Dutch girl living in Switzerland. She applied to a University in Amsterdam where she will start her Bachelors in International Business Administration in September 2017. With her blog she likes to share her journey of moving abroad, and all her tips and tricks on how to study smarter, not harder. www.unicorners.co

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Reflections from a College (almost) Junior

I am normally pretty good about posting on a regular schedule, but I must admit that I have managed to stray from that quite a bit lately. I wrote my last post about two weeks ago, and since then life has become a blur of assignments, end-of-semester planning, and reflections on where I have been.

The other day, a stream of thoughts managed to pop in my head as I was packing up some of my belongings and planning for the end of the semester: “Awesome now I just have to fill out this brief form about storing my belongings for next year. Alright, let’s see, academic year 2017-2018, class year, um, third year—WOAH. Wait. What? Hold up.” I then sat in reflection for a few moments, amazed at how quickly life can pass us by. Memories from the past two years came pouring in, and I realized just how much has changed since I first set foot on campus.

Besides the fact that I am physically two years older (almost three, and 21, but that’s a reflection for another time!), I feel as though I have shifted my perspectives and visions. I laugh when I think about just how many items I brought with me my first semester of college, and how little I actually need to live on. I ended up falling in love with the unique charm of the older dorm on campus, after thinking I wanted to live in the new dorms all my years here. I ended up switching academic interests, finding my passions outside of my original interests. I focused on my passion for creative writing and turned it into an opportunity to build skills. And perhaps most importantly, I learned to love change.

I’ve talked about this before, but change is something that used to make me feel as though I had no ground to stand on. If my routine changed, it was as though someone yanked the rug of support out from under me and I was falling into uncertainty and fear. I would change the items that surrounded me, but never my surroundings themselves. Over the past few years I have done the opposite. I have thrown myself into situations that my old self would have nightmares about, situations in which I traveled by myself to stay with people I didn’t know and learn about things I knew little about. Situations in which I challenged my original opinions and purposefully went by myself to events that would allow me to expand my community. I abandoned my old routines and embraced discomfort and the unknown.

I never knew that I could grow so much as a person, and I know that the growth will only continue as I start to experience more of the world. I have become more aligned with body, mind, and spirit with my vegan diet, minimalist perspective, and spiritual path. Most of all, I feel as though I have a lot to be happy about. I think that the constant fear that I harbored within me put a limit to the happiness that I could experience. If something didn’t go to plan, happiness would most definitely not be the result. If I had to face a new experience, I would not enter with a happy outlook. But now, I realize that every experience gives you something to be happy about.

You can be happy that you found out something you don’t want to do again, or that you found out who you don’t want to be. You can be happy that you have the opportunity to take a warm shower at the end of a long day. You can be happy that you have a roof over your head, or a bed to sleep in each night. Most people have heard the saying “too blessed to be stressed,” and this rings true for so many aspects of life. Being able to experience academic stress, and to not have to worry about where you will stay for the night or what you will eat, is a blessing. Being able to experience what life has to offer is a blessing. This shift in perspective has meant that the last time that I had a truly terrible day was about a year ago. I have definitely had my share of bad moments in some days, but they no longer affect the day as a whole.

As I go into my third year of college, many adventures await me. New experiences, new places, new lessons. Though I still have to get through finals, I can’t help but be excited about the future and about the change that is yet to come.

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

 

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Being a Bawse

I started watching Lilly Singh (aka Superwoman)’s YouTube videos way back in high school, during my homework breaks. I found her to be an inspiration, someone who was able to make me laugh and relate to her experiences. I followed her progression as a creator over the years, noticing how she grew as a person but always stayed true to the vision she had started with.

At that point in time, I had never thought of myself as a creator. In fact, if there was a project in high school that was described as a creative endeavor I would inwardly panic, thinking I had no creative ability whatsoever. I had always known that my drawing/painting/anything art related skills were far and few, not recognizing that there were other ways to be creative. I had boxed in a definition of creativity, and dismissed myself because I happened to fall outside of those characteristics.

I always love hearing how other creatives started their blogs, channels, and other media because these stories usually have something in common: whether they thought of themselves as creative or not, they recognized this ability and what they can share with the world. As I have said before, I had a lightbulb moment of recognition when I saw a Pinterest post about starting a blog written by the lovely Morgan Timm. It was as if I was seeing myself in a new light, suddenly remembering how much I used to love writing when I was younger. All of the journals, diaries, and short stories that would escape my imagination and leave imprints on the pages of my childhood. How I dreamed of becoming an author one day. All of these feelings came back in a rush, for they had been buried for so long.

I have seen a similar progression in my own creative endeavors from when I started until now. In August I will have been blogging for two years, and I find it difficult to put all that I have learned into words.

When I saw that Lilly had written a book (something I have always dreamed of doing!), I knew that I had to get a copy. I was fortunate enough to stumble across a signed copy, and could barely wait for it to arrive. It came to my campus mailbox this past Monday, and was one of the best ways to start the week. I started reading it with no preconceived notions of what to expect.

Words cannot even describe how I felt as I turned each page. It was almost as if I was hearing the echoes of my own heart. Each vivid page brought my own dream to life, and more than that it made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

To give you some background, I try to put my all into everything that I do and am quite busy as a result. I enjoy putting my best foot forward, but it hasn’t always been an easy journey.

In high school I was quite stressed. Beyond that, my life was void of the creative energy that fills every gap in my life today. I was trapped in the box that I had drawn around myself, committed to living a scholarly life that never tested my creative ability. Lilly describes her own struggle with feeling as though she wasn’t pursuing her passions, and just living a life she thought she was meant to live. Though she experienced this after college, I resonated with the idea completely. I was stuck in my own idea of what my best life was, restricting my own growth.

When I started my blog, I started to erase the box and draw lines in new directions. I journeyed into the unknown, guided by the creative voice that I had subdued for so long. Instead of critiquing all of my creative choices, I embraced them. I made mistakes, I learned, and most of all I loved. The color started to seep back into my world, and I could feel my creativity growing with each day.

Lilly took on creativity as a full-time job, and does an amazing job of balancing it all despite the criticisms that she receives. As a student blogger, it’s common for me to have my motivations questioned. My day is scheduled nearly hour by hour, and I am always reading, writing, working, and creating. There are many who don’t understand why I choose to spend this much time on creativity, but for me it can only be explained by passion. It never feels like work for me, and as I sit here right now typing in the early hours of the morning I feel surrounded by joy and positive energy.

Blogging has allowed me to embrace my true self, and erase the rigid lines I had thought were permanent. There were many creators who inspired me to take this leap, and I can only hope that I inspire others to do the same.

If you haven’t read How to Be a BawseI highly recommend that you grab a copy! I read it in one day, and haven’t stopped thinking about it. How have you embraced your creative self?

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

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Advice from a Double Major

For this week’s post I decided that I wanted to focus more on my college life, seeing as the semester is already progressing to a close. It’s hard to believe that I am almost halfway done with my college experience as a whole! I’ve been a double major since October of this year (and an intended double major for quite some time before that!), and thought I would talk about all that I have learned.

When I started my college journey, I thought I was going to major in Economics and potentially specialize in studies of global development. However, as I progressed on my college journey and through my college classes, I felt a spark of passion for Religious Studies. I declared this as my first major in my second semester of college, and only then did I start to think that I might want to add another major to the mix. I had always been interested in politics and policy, and after taking a few classes officially added Political Science as a major last semester.

Being a double major is definitely not easy, but if there are two subjects that you are interested in it’s well worth the effort! Since my college does not offer minors, double majoring is an in-depth study of two disciplines. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Be Prepared for Many Advising Appointments and Four-Year Plan Drafts

Planning for one major can be difficult in of itself, and planning for a double major is much like figuring out a difficult puzzle: it takes a lot of work to make it all fit. But once it does the effort is more than worth it! I think I have made about seven or eight full four-year plan drafts in my almost four semesters of college so far. I’ve made countless appointments to meet with both of my major advisers, and have also met with the career office and registrar. Because each major has different requirements, it’s important to talk with both of your advisers to see if a department allows dual credit for a class–that is, the class counts for major credit in both disciplines.

Think About the Type of Work that Each of Your Majors Requires

Both of my majors are reading and writing intensive, and because of this planning is key. I usually have a paper due each week at the minimum, plus reading assignments and other commitments. Using my planner effectively was a skill that I learned to value during my first year of college.

That being said, don’t let your double major prevent you from participating in extracurriculars and campus/community events! I volunteer and participate in a number of community organizations, have two campus jobs, and am on the student committee for one of my majors. I also blog and make YouTube videos. 🙂 But I manage to fit it all in, and still focus on self-care.

Don’t Let your Double Major Prevent you from Studying Abroad

This is important. I wasn’t going to study abroad because I thought that it wouldn’t be physically possible for me to fit it into my schedule. When people asked if I was going abroad, I told them that my double major was too full to let me do so. But I still decided to look at the programs being offered, and I found one that resonated so completely with the goals of both of my majors and my future aspirations.

Intrigued, I made appointments with both of my advisers and the registrar to see if it would be possible. And to my surprise it was! The application process was a bit stressful since I waited so long, so I recommend looking into it ahead of time if you have any interest in studying abroad. Don’t eliminate the possibility until you check the requirements! 🙂

Use Your Double Major to Pursue What You’re Passionate About 

A double major allows you to become immersed completely in two subjects that you’re passionate about. The downside to this is that there isn’t much room for exploring other classes or topics, but many colleges offer the option to audit classes you’re interested in! I’m taking 18 credits each semester this year, with Italian being the two credit class that I added on to my usual schedule. Plus with two majors you can usually take a wide variety of classes despite being “limited” to two subject areas.

Learn How to be Meaningfully Busy

When you pursue a double major, you will definitely be busy. Between all of your classes and appointments, scheduling will be an art! But there is a difference between being busy just for the sake of it, and being meaningfully busy. This might be one of the most important things that I have learned as a double major, because I definitely used to fill my schedule with things when I had the time. But now I have found out what I love to do, and how to prioritize what I love. I fill my time with interesting campus events, working in the community, classes, assignments, spending time with friends, and self-care. I am still very busy, but the nature of my schedule has completely changed.

I hope you enjoyed this post about being a double major! What have you learned in your college studies, or from being a double major? Are you looking to double major but still have questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send an email! 🙂

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

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Alyssa DeBella

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! I'm a third-year college student passionate about writing, minimalism, vegan living, and coffee. I would love for you to join my online family!
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