Travel Advice From My Parents That Probably Kept Me Alive All these Years

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PhotoGrid_1411915240366Since leaving the country for the first time on my own when I was 19, planning my travels has never been easier thanks to the alertness of my parents. Whoever was raised in an Eastern European family is probably familiar with the analysis of any destination that’s outside the EU or the United States. I’m not sure why our parents are so distressed (they might be watching too much TV) but it’s sure as hell hilarious hearing them explain their ‘don’t go there’ clauses. Behold:

‘Don’t go to Africa because of ebola and pirates and terrorism and tribes and being sold into slavery.’

‘Don’t go to Australia because of spiders and snakes and every other animal on that island that exists to kill you.’

‘Don’t go to Japan because of earthquakes.’

‘Don’t go to China. It’s… too far away.’

‘Don’t go to South Korea because it’s too close to North Korea.’

‘Don’t go to Cuba because you’ll be flagged by the United States, which means no Green Card and so what have we been raising you for?’

‘Wherever the plot from the movie Taken was located – don’t go there.’

‘Serbia? As in not-Kosovo? You’ve caught me off guard, I don’t know anything about the place. But until further notice, don’t go there.’

‘Ok, go to Russia, but if you get kidnapped, make sure they keep you within the country. The place is big enough as it is and we’d appreciate if the search for you were as narrow as possible.’

‘Don’t go east of Romania. Go west of Romania but not west enough that it becomes east. You’re not fooling anybody. Oh, except for Latin America – you’re not allowed there because of cartels and drugs.’

Understood?

 

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Undoing the Curse of Applying for Grad Jobs

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Being a final year sounds to me like being in labour for 10 months. They say that it’s painful and that you have no choice but to keep pushing. Not only is there a dissertation to be written and re-written, but you also need time to cancel your Facebook profile, to think about what’s next and, more importantly, to do something about it. I suspect this is where grad applications come in. Unless you’re doing a masters degree to delay contact with the real world (which I am not), grad jobs are the latest #trend in coping with your new adult life. Rumour has it that they pay well and can even restore meaning to your work after graduation. All I can say is let’s just hope this is more than a myth.

On that note, I’m writing this article because I am applying for grad jobs at the moment and I really need to get myself into thinking that every damned application is worth it. With internships, I used to gamble my chances because the alternative was spending a free summer in the sun. As of July 2015, that alternative will DIE and, with it, a zombie alternative will emerge, involving spending the rest of my young adulthood living with my parents and shopping at Primark – so not my priority.

But enough complaining. I’ll save that for later posts. For now, using the power of suggestion, I will lay out the benefits of pushing through those endless, tedious, mind numbing grad job applications:

1.    For one thing, as you get ready to sell yourself, you get to look back over your achievements and realize that you haven’t been so useless for the past 3 years (unless you really were and your CV is 2 paragraphs long – in that case, I would recommend therapy)

2.    Never say no to a chance of using your written communication skills. These days, it’s pretty hard to give up hashtags, getto jargon and ‘like like’ in casual dialogues. I’d say job that applications have the power to keep you speaking Human more than anything else.

3.    All those interview and online app questions set the scene for some serious introspection. ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why do you want to work for the company? How do you handle failure?’  These questions have a point in that they kind of guide you through the thinking process you’d otherwise use if you weren’t so desperate, impatient or unmotivated. It would be good practice to consider these issues anyway but the problem is we don’t, because we’re too young and wild and free to care yet, so thank you, multinationals, for keeping us down to earth.

4.    Let’s not forget about those online numerical, logical, situational reasoning, killmenow assessments. Personally I hate them but they remind me of a good piece of parental advice: ‘In life, you will have to do things that you don’t like – it’s unavoidable. What speaks about your character is how well you handle them’. So if it’s timed math tests that speak about my character, SO BE IT! – I will practice the crap out of them until I score max points and move on with my life in glory.

5.    I hate to admit it but Snoop Dogg is right: keep your mind on the money and the money on your mind. So I might as well try coding this next one:

     if (grad job) {

     salary && bonuses == Marc Jacobs, Adidas, Estee Lauder, maybePrada

     else

     Primark}

Did anyone say Primark? Ok, it’s time to start another grad job application.