Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cultivate the Mind

A woman has to be intelligent, have charm, a sense of humor, and be kind. It's the same qualities I require from a man.
--French actress Catherine Deneuve

Style is not solely a material concern.

Although clothing, accessories, and products can all be used to enhance one's beauty-- the most permanent element of a beautiful woman is her mind.

Just as we update our personal style and the items in our closets, it is equally important to provide new material for our minds. Learning should not end with one's formal education! It is easy to slump into a routine where the only new material that we consume is what we have seen on reality TV and Facebook. (I too, have been guilty of this!)

What I love about travelling is that it is the surest way to immerse oneself in learning, culture, and history. Most tourists would not want to while away their vacation hours in a hotel room watching reruns of The Jersey Shore. Aside from the occasional photo update (intended to make Facebook friends envious), travelers find themselves exploring a new landscape, trying new foods, visiting a famous museum, or braving a foreign language. Whether we realize it or not, the thrill of learning something new is a great part of why we enjoy our vacations so much.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Community Celebrations

Local festivals are a fun way to see new things and experience an area's history and culture.

Although Oktoberfest might be the best-known German (or even European) festival, it is far from the only one. Nearly every German town, from a major city like Munich to the smallest little village, holds annual (or bi-annual) celebrations for locals and visitors alike. These public parties provide a little boost to the local economy, a welcome distraction for working citizens, and fun and entertainment for people of all ages. These town-wide celebrations are something for people to look forward to and generally enhance the quality of life in these areas.

How I envy those Europeans!

Although America is not entirely devoid of public celebrations, these kinds of events tend to get crammed into weekend schedules, or, if we're lucky, they're stretched out over a three-day weekend. What a shame! European celebrations often last a week or longer. What makes this possible is the generous amount of time off allowed by the European workplace. Most businesses automatically give employees about 30 days, or six week's worth, of vacation time-- more for higher-up or longer-tenured employees. How pitiful that Americans are only given one or two weeks on average.

Nevertheless, here in America, I strive to be a connoisseur of as may regional events as possible. Just because I can't jaunt off to Europe every week doesn't mean I have to stay home and see nothing! So, in keeping with my New Year's resolution of attending more cultural events, I decided to go on an adventure this month. As a Pennsylvania resident, I thought it was finally time for me to attend one of Pennsylvania's best-known annual celebrations: Groundhog Day.