Posts Tagged ‘Life’

California to London: My Personal Case Study

This could also be entitled, “Why moving away from my homeland has been the best decision of life and why all human beings should experience the same thing: a case study,” but I thought that would be entirely too long. Also, let me define: by case study, I mean my personal experience which, herein, will be used as a case study and the base for this discussion/monologue. I suppose it’s primarily intended for those who are looking to move away for graduate school, work or study abroad, but anyone with input, please comment away!


I spoke with a friend of mine who, rather abruptly, gave up her life in Northern California to pursue a Marketing/PR internship opportunity that had arisen in LA. She had never lived away from her family and there was no pay attached to the internship period (although there were hopes of a future job opportunity), but working in public relations in the LA area had been her goal. About a month after her move (a couple of months before my move to London), I asked her about her feelings on moving away and starting an entirely new life. The verdict? Hard at first, but ultimately the most fulfilling adventure.

Now that I’ve been living in London for nearly four months, I would tend to agree with her perspective on the move. Although I miss my family, my friends and the relative normalcy (read: monotony) of life in Northern California, I can positively say that the path that I chose was undoubtedly the best personal decision of life, to date. The move has given me new perspective on relationships, on other cultures and on life.

Tiff & I <3.

Chris & I at The Lion King!

I have had the opportunity to look intently at my relationships and realize that the connections built in life don’t need to fade away just because the distance between two individuals grows; that physical proximity and emotional proximity are not linked, even in the slightest (although I’m sure the advent of social networking sites has helped make this much easier than it would have been 25 years ago)!

National Gallery

I have also been able to experience life in a foreign country and soak up all the nuances that come with it. Living life in a cosmopolitan city (London, Paris, New York, etc.) grants one the ability to marinate and grow in an undeniable melting pot. Daily, I find myself running into people from France, Germany, Belgium, Georgia, Canada, Nigeria, Ghana (and the list goes on and on). In one term of classes, my eyes have already been opened to the vast differences in culture and individual perspectives; issues that I had been dealing with at home seem ridiculous when compared to famine and $1.25 per day that my classmates are familiar with. Moreover, it’s not just reading about these far-off places (Malawi, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Uganda) and theorizing about how life is lived there; it’s a chance for me to talk with new friends about how their lives are and how their personal experiences have changed their personal paths.

Perhaps the best part about the move, though, is the fact that I now know that I am fully capable of being on my own in the world. Despite having lived away from my family for the past five years, I was close enough to know that I could call if ever there were an issue. Now, I am in a completely foreign country with an entirely new set of people surrounding me and amazing new experiences every day and I absolutely love every second of it. I know now that I am capable of keeping my options open after graduating, and living/working abroad without feeling detached. Instead of being scared of things, I feel as though now I have fully realized that every day brings something new: new people to meet, new things to learn, new mistakes to make and new ways to be a better, more fulfilled person.

So, for anyone wondering whether a move is a good decision: what is there to lose? Really? A small bit of income that can be regained? Leaving behind some friends that you can contact via Facebook and Skype? On the flip side, think of everything that you can gain from pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. I think in this case the reward is definitely worth the risk.

Lots of love from London,

Signature Stamp - Shannon


Onward to Seattle!

Hey Kiddos!

I’m at the airport right now, waiting patiently in Sacramento until 1P or so when we get to board our plane to Seattle! Even at 11A, I could feel the Sacramento heat bearing down on us, and I’m incredibly excited to be escaping it for the weekend. One of the things that I love most about the airport is people-watching; there’s always such a mixed crowd of people and it makes me laugh.

As I’m looking around, I see the standard techy, plug-your-laptop-in-and-escape type (such as myself), the under 18 crowd who are plugged into their iPods, ignoring their parent’s banter, the occassional business man dotted strategically through the waiting area, laptop open, bluetooth in ear, playing (pretending to actually be working) on their BlackBerry, and then there are the moms… oh, the moms. There’s the tattooed teenage mother, trying to keep her child in line, who is chasing her two-year-old through the airport (which is slightly entertaining), and then there’s the 40-year-old mom. Gotta love those; overprotective because they’re excited that their womanly parts could still bear children. She has her baby strapped to her chest in one of those Native American papoose-style carriers and she’s petting the child’s head, which I find bizarre. My fear, of course, is that this child will be on our plane. From my experience, children and planes don’t mesh well. I think this is likely a documented fact. Typically, after I’ve stepped off of the plane, I want to kill myself, the sounds of a beeping Nintendo DS and high-pitched screaming ringing in my ears. My hope is that this trip will be different. I’ve brought my new book, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, to keep me occupied throughout the hour and a half flight. Hopefully it works!

In any case, I feel satisfied at this moment, having just eating a tofu roll courtesy of Lemon Grass. I didn’t realize that they had a small station in the airport, so that effectively made my day.

Airport Kids

{You know the sight of all these kids scared the life out of me!}

On to Seattle!

Hope everyone has an amazing fourth!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Life as a Millennial

millennialPicture courtesy of TIME and Joel Stein


I love the power of the internet. I can send an email to London with a question and hear back from them within 24 hours. I can apply to a University overseas and open a British bank account just by filling out an online application and sending in some supporting information (that I, of course, have scanned in for future reference.) It is 2009 afterall, and I am a millennial, mosaic, a prime example of Generation Y. I just had a conversation earlier about how our society has become such an information-driven society: we want information and we want it now. Five minutes isn’t soon enough. Get on your Blackberry, bring up the internet and Google what you’re looking for; if you’re fairly text adept, you can probably acquire any bit of information in 2 minutes flat. If that. After all, after Michael Jackson’s passing, anyone with the internet and a facebook or Twitter account found out within 30 minutes. It’s news and we all want to know — no waiting for the morning newspaper (how 1980’s), no waiting for the nightly news or a special report on television (how 1990’s); send us a text, shoot us an email, post a microblog on your twitter account or change your facebook status. We’re all watching you, after all; waiting for your juicy newsfeed.

Technology has given us the benefit of being supreme multi-taskers; we are a new generation of people. We can drive to a business appointment, while coordinating another appointment over the phone (using our handy bluetooth), while simultaneously updating our facebook status through our iPhone or Blackberry apps. If you’re not doing at least three things at once, you’re likely wasting precious time that will be take away from social networking later in the day. Being a product of society, I quite enjoy being able to multitask; I’m a firm believer in productivity: work smarter, not harder. If I can get five hours of work crammed into one hour, why not? That leaves me extra valuable time to hit the gym, make dinner, go grocery shopping, and so on. On the flip side, I think that this transformation has made us an incredibly impatient people; we expect everyone else to be multi-tasking to the same degree that we are, and if they’re not, we get frustrated. I think it’s natural. I find myself doing it, too, when I see people paying bills by check versus paying over the internet or handling what should be super quick matters in old-fashioned (more time-consuming) ways. Additionally, I think we have lost a huge human element in our world. Instead of calling someone to talk, we shoot them an email or a message over facebook or MySpace; who has time to talk anymore? Instead of normal, face-to-face interactions, we rely on the efficiency of conference calling, Skype or internet conversation. It is undoubtedly the faster way to do things, but we don’t seem to have the same regard for people as we used to; definitely the downside to being a millenial. Our generation (Generation Y) has been described as the mosaic generation. Why? Well, because we don’t really have one attribute that defines us as a cohort; we are a complex generation that proves to be a mishmash of many different ideologies. We don’t all believe in the same things because we don’t have to. We’re ‘post-modern’ and don’t think linearly. Of course that helps add to the brilliance, I’m sure, but how can we think linearly? We haven’t been taught that way. We are the ultimate multi-taskers. We have been taught that productivity is key, and if we have paid attention to society at all, we recognize that our society has made being productive so much easier. I run into 8-year-olds who can download music while talking on their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cell phones… I mean, really? What 8-year-old needs a cell phone? Apparently kids in our society, because let’s be honest, we have to get them started early. They’ll learn the ways of the world soon enough after all. Plus, let’s face it, they need to call their parents to make sure they can coordinate their calendars for back-to-school night. Even 8-year-olds have to notify their Outlook.

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Please note: As I am writing this, I’m drinking a cup of freshly brewed coffee, warming up dinner and putting my laundry away. Case in point.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

lemons 2

My girlfriends would say that when life gives you lemons, you should make a limoncello martini. I guess that’s true; optimism is always a good thing. Today, however, has not been going well. I have definitely been given lemons and it’s way to early for limoncello martinis. Or lemonade. Or whatever else lemons are good for.

I started this day fairly happily, enjoying the 70 degree weather whilst driving downtown to my first appointment of the day. Well, as my GPS/bluetooth system started acting a little funny, I had to take a call on my handset. (I realize I didn’t “have to” do anything, but I kind of did; bear with me.) So, in the 30 – 45 second interval that I had the handset to my cheek, somewhat hidden under my mop of hair, a cop on a motorcycle decides to to pull up behind me and follow me. I, of course, dropped the phone immediately, as if to say “I’m innocent and was not using a phone; it is a figment of your imagination, cop man.” Well, unfortunately, my tactics didn’t work. He pulled me over, told me that I had been on my cell, gave me a ticket and effectively ruined my day! It’s always a bad start to a  day when you get a ticket at 815A. I think it’s probably an even worse start to a week, although I cannot be sure yet. On top of that, I returned to the office after my morning appointment (which went smoothly, despite my fears) and was so ridiculously amped on getting a hot cup of office coffee to start my day. However, since I had received the ominous ticket at 815A, there was, of course, only three drops of coffee left when I lifted the nozzle. I watched the coffee leftover grounds fall into my cup and cried inside a little.

No coffee + Citation… Lord, help me today. I’m gonna need it!

Also, in an effort to vent and possibly start a discussion on this topic (I am desperately hoping that others feel the way that I do on this): Why are cops so lame? I mean seriously? You’re pulling me over for talking on my cell phone for 30 seconds when you could be stopping real criminals? I am the antithesis of the definition of criminal; I don’t drive without my license, I would never drink before driving and I brush my teeth twice a day. I’m not the kind of person that should be getting ticketed! Don’t you have something better to do? Like make our society a safer place? I mean, really. Get a life, cop man on your motorcycle thinking your cool.

Does anyone else think that the seat belt law and the cell phone law are a little lame? Especially the seat belt law — I always wear a seat belt, but if I didn’t, who would I be hurting? Why would you TICKET me for hurting myself? Seriously. Do your job and find a real criminal maybe. Also, I’m not a cop-hater; I’m sure they help people somewhere, they just have never helped me so I’m not their biggest fan.

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Going Our Separate Ways…

H&S 3

London & Los Angeles <3.

I think one of the most bizarre parts of graduating and coming into adulthood is the reality that people begin to go their separate ways and begin living their own lives. We all find different paths that work for us and we try to follow them to get to ultimately reach our ever-changing goals. As the semester began winding down a few weeks ago, I said goodbye to a girlfriend of mine that was leaving to start her life with her long-term boyfriend in Tennessee. As I wished her luck in Nashville and she wished me luck in England, I realized how different people’s paths in life really are. For her, it involves moving across the country to start a life in a foreign city with her boyfriend. For me, it involves moving across the world to pursue higher education and an indescribable life experience. For some, it involves working in an entry level job while living in a super cramped studio apartment in San Francisco and for others, it involves staying at home to keep a hold of a safety net. It’s the time in our lives where we can legitimately chase our dreams, regardless of how ludicrous our ideas may sound to onlookers.

Everything really hit me about thirty minutes ago. One of my girlfriends, whose ultimate goal is to become a publicist in Los Angeles, decided to apply for an internship in LA last week. She drove down to LA on Thursday, interviewed for two unpaid PR-related internships and just found out today that she got the one she wanted! In three short weeks, she’ll be packing up her X3 and taking a trip down to LA to get to work on her dreams. It’s weird saying goodbye to everyone; to friends, to family and to the security of home. We hope that we’ll all stay in touch, and luckily with the advent of social networking sites & BlackBerries, we can stay connected fairly easily. However, the reality is that we all become different people. We all grow up. Right now we’re all young adults grappling with the idea of being twenty-somethings trying to navigate our way in the world and trying to find paths that will lead to success. We’re not sureexactly if the path we uncover is the right one or where it will ultimately lead, but there is some excitement and fulfillment in finding and pursuing a path at all. Although idling in a realm of complacency gives us a sense of security in knowing that we have a paycheck, a place to live, a car to drive and family and friends to rely on, it doesn’t really lead to that final level of self-actualization (look at me, referencing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs…). Although that sense of security is important for some (or most) of us, it’s being able to branch out that helps us grow. If we stay in our holes because it’s comfortable, we will never be able to acclimate when our environment forces us. Feeling uncomfortable, missing home, pushing away that sense of fear and uncertainty shapes us and lets us appreciate the happiness that we have in life. Our minds have the opportunity to change and understand new and different perspectives and ultimately the experience makes us better people and better contributors to the world. We’re all scared and we all question our decisions at some point, but in the end, we’ll be able to look back and know that we tried; whether our path was the right one or not, at least we had the chance to experience it and find out for ourselves.

Lots of love & best wishes,