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5 Reasons Why the Holidays Suck in a Foreign Country

22 Dec

Having spent almost almost half of my Christmas’ in a country that is not my own, I am a veteran in the methods of spending holidays in foreign countries. Yet whatever I do, however many times I spend the holiday season in a foreign country, there are some factors that I just can’t get around. Not that you can’t have a good time in a foreign country, but there are some minus’.

1. Family – Unless your entire extended family has traveled with you to your country of choice, you will probably have little contact with them during this holiday season. I mean, yes, with today’s technology you could chat with them or even video chat with them, but is it really the same as having them around the tree with you on Christmas, or around the… menorah on Hanukkah? Maybe everybody doesn’t feel the same as I do, which is that the holidays are very family oriented. Maybe some people want to use this as an excuse to get away from their family, but it’s always nice to have them as an option, and in a foreign country, that’s next to impossible.

2. Shipping – This one might be slightly self-explanatory. Shipping presents to a foreign country is not fun or cheap. The shipping can sometimes cost more than the gift, and sometimes what you want won’t ship to your country. Now these might not sound like big problems but these are the bane of my existence, I guarantee you. Even worse is shipping presents to other countries, what with labels that have to be printed out and the extraordinary cost of such things.

3. Does that country even celebrate your holiday? – I mean, almost every country has some type of Christmas-y celebration (Although in Armenia it’s on the 6th of January – who knew?) and so if that is your holiday, count yourself lucky. With every other holiday, your chances for your country celebrating that holiday decrease exponentially. And that definitely sucks.

4. Type of celebration – What if the country you are living in doesn’t celebrate the holiday the way you do? It can be extremely unsettling to have different points of views on your traditions and culture. For instance, the traditionally Scandinavian holiday of Saint Lucy’s Day isn’t really celebrated like that anywhere else. Girls wear candles on their heads, which would be kind of surprising if you were living there and you had never heard of this holiday. But if you open up your mind, other holiday traditions can be just as fun as the traditional tree or advent calendar.

5. Weather – This one might be a little out of place in this list, but this one really gets me personally. I have spent some of my ‘formative’ years in a place where it usually snows every Christmas, and when I moved to a much more tropical place, all of my holiday cheer just went down the drain. I forgot to buy presents (something I never do) because it didn’t feel like it could be even remotely close to the holidays yet. To me, snow means the holiday season, and vice versa. I hope not everybody has these kind of problems!

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A Jonah Day

1 Dec

You may not have heard this phrase, but it is one I’ve had much cause to use over the last week. A Jonah day is just one of those days where you feel like no matter what you do, nothing is going to go right. I learned this phrase from one of my favorite books of all time, Anne of Avonlea, the second book in the Anne of Green Gables series, which some people may have heard of. In this book, Anne ends up with a toothache, whipping one of her pupils, and accidentally setting off fireworks in her school house. I guess my bad days don’t really compare as well. Getting yelled at by a teacher is not so bad in the grand scheme of things. It was just a Jonah day, and there wasn’t much I could do. I can accept that there will probably be others, and I think I will be able to handle them, because you have to go through the Jonah days to get to the heavenly ones. Just a Jonah day.

You Are What You Eat

8 Nov

I know, I know, nobody like to hear things about healthy eating, exercise, and stuff like that. But I’m here to talk about it in terms of how these great things can affect your life in a positive way and how they can help you cope with big changes in your life. I personally have been eating healthy since the day I was born, my parents being rather conscious of what I ate, and at what time I eat it. During the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve had a bit more freedom in my food choices, and I am just starting to realize what a bad effect my choices are having on me. My healthy eating has gotten me well through multiple countries, and I’ve always been at the top of my class, which may not have anything to do with my eating habits, but somehow I suspect it does. I have looked over these facts and resolved to change my eating habits, because I have learned that it can have a really big effect on everything that you do.

The same goes for exercising. I have been taking a psychology course, and I have been learning about how when you exercise, your mind releases endorphins that make you feel happy and healthy. And perhaps my mind has been starved of these things lately, but I have also resolved to exercise more regularly.

These things can help you when going through big changes if you keep up a routine, and stick to it through thick and thin.

Eyes Up!

2 Nov

“Life is like a box of chocolates.” This famous line, delivered into the minds of anyone who has ever seen Forrest Gump, has so many meanings that it would be hard to name them all. Basically, the metaphor is that every day is something unexpected, you never know what is going to happen. I’ve had this theory in my head for a long, long time, way before I ever saw that amazing movie. I put it into similar words circa 7 years old, but unfortunately my genius wasn’t appreciated at the time, or perhaps I would be a famous philosopher by now. ” Life is like a fashion show.” Was, and still is, my theory for the way life works. Each outfit that comes out from behind those curtain could be great, or it could look like the model just put glue all over her body and rolled around on fabric. (I believe that this is what Lady Gaga does, except she rolls in random household objects instead of fabric.) And perhaps to somebody else, that same model looks horrible in what you think is a great outfit or looks amazing in what you think looks awful. Your bad day may change somebody else’s life for the better, or vice-versa.

Another philosophy that was brought to my attention only a few days ago was the physical manifestation of our personalities in they way we go through life. Some people walk with their eyes always on the ground, looking for problems in their path, and never tripping. Others walk through life with their eyes consistently focused on something in the distance, but they always seem to be tripping over something. Could this be a metaphor for their personalities, with pros and cons of both?

Just a couple of things to keep you awake,

xoxo, ~ Harlow

The Halloween Sitch

25 Oct

Almost every year since I was 8 or 9, I’ve wanted a costume bought from a store, not made by my mother, as they had all been previously. And every year, at the beginning of October, I look at Halloween costumes and get inspired. I always find one I particularly love, usually a historical costume, because I seem to love history whatever I do. Usually it’s the 50’s poodle skirt costume or the Greek goddess costume that really doesn’t look anything like depictions of goddesses from that time period.

I have only ever bought one costume from an actual store. In all of those years, I have always forgotten to actually buy the costume before Halloween, or before the time it would take to ship it to where I live. The only costume I have ever bought was a 20’s flapper costume that I fell in love with as soon as it hit the digital screen I was looking at. It was a historically accurate length, and had fringe from the top to bottom. I got a feathered hat and a large boa to wear it with, figuring that this would be my only time to get an actual costume, and I should go all-out.

It went downhill from the moment I put it on. Having bought it online, it was slightly too big for me, and I despaired. I wore it anyways, to a Trick-or-Treating party where everybody else had a perfectly fitting store-bought costume. Again, I despaired. Then came the point in the evening that brought me news of the worst kind: none of my friends knew what a flapper was! When I told them I was a flapper, they assumed it was something dirty! I was at a breaking point right then… then I calmed down. I told them what a flapper really was, and they thought I was being snooty and smarter than them. It was a bad evening of epic proportions, or so it seemed at the time.

Since then I’ve come to realize that I don’t really care what other people think about the costume I’m wearing, that it doesn’t matter because it’s Halloween, and you need to have fun! Although I haven’t really had time to test this theory specifically to Halloween because I haven’t bought another costume since then. But in other aspects of my life I’ve put this theory into work with my normal self, every day. Who cares if people are looking at you or don’t “get” something about you?

xoxo, ~ Harlow

Finish First!

24 Oct

This is kind of an ‘oldish’ youtube video that I think represents quite a few things that I would like to mention:

1. Guys always think they are tough, and that toughness is always a good thing. As the guys in this video realize at the end, girls don’t like that stuff, they like guys who like them.

2. Since when do large gold chains mean toughness? Doesn’t that look slightly… poser-ish? Maybe that’s just the video mocking modern culture, you say, but it isn’t just confined to this video. I mean, I see people all the time who think large polo shirts or button-downs that are half undone are cool or ‘tough’. When did this happen?

The Importance of Peripheral Vision

19 Oct

Has anyone here seen those old-timer Americana scenes where all the kids in the neighborhood have gathered in the middle of the street to play softball or basketball? As a kid, I would go out sometimes and play with other kids, usually in the form of playing “house”, where somebody was the mother and daughter and so on and so forth. I loved going outside and playing, especially of there was snow on the ground! I didn’t have much else to break the monotony of suburban life without a computer, and good books were my only company for the most part.

As some have guessed, the kids of today, the past few years, are spending more time solely on the computer, and not participating the real world, as is needed to develop you physically and mentally. Studies have shown that children who either sit in front of a computer or television for hours on end are starting to lose their peripheral vision. It just simply isn’t needed for them anymore. Another side effect is also a weight problem, but that’s for another blog post.

When I learned this, I was very concerned; peripheral vision is very important if you ever want to play sports or drive, at all. Living without it would be a very dangerous thing, you may not even notice until you either get tested or are in a car accident.

It seems this phenomenon was noticed when the children sat and watched TV in very early life, so I will try not to feel guilty staring at a computer screen for a while when I am typing these blog posts.