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I’ve noticed that the more I travel and the busier I become, the more impossible it becomes to keep up with my travels in real-time. Well, never fear monthly recap posts are here!
What I was up to this month
Can you believe I’ve been living in Beijing for over a year?! Time flies SO FAST. Now I’ve officially been in China for 3 full years post-graduation.
This month was pretty busy in Beijing. I helped run a summer camp for my office, which had me working six days a week for half the month. In my spare time, I explored more of my neighborhood, enjoyed the good weather, tested out new restaurants and made some new friends. I also had a HUGE month on the blog. I was offered my first press trip, and I was published in both Huffington Post and Matador Network!
Where I Went
I spent all of August in Beijing, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything fun. I explored via bike, wandered around Houhai Lake, tested new bars and restaurants, and enjoyed myself at my neighborhood pool.
1. Published on Huffington Post!
This month I published my first piece on Huffington Post! While I knew that writing for sites like Huffington and Matador can be great for your brand if people find them, I just never really got around to it. In the last month, I started studying up on Huffington and decided it was time to make the leap!
I took one of my old posts about how travel is ruining my love life, rewrote it and submitted it on their site. When I didn’t hear back, I decided to take matters into my own hands and email Arianna Huffington herself. Two hours later I had an email in my inbox inviting me to write as a Huffington Post contributor! I was in shock. I never actually thought they would accept me!
The next day my post was published and the real work began. Huffington Post has so many different contributors that they won’t automatically promote your content unless it’s doing well without their help. Immediately I advertised the article on all my social media accounts, paid to boost it on Facebook, and politely asked friends to share for me.
Within a day my post was promoted on the Huffington Post women’s page and shared on their Facebook account. Next, it was shared by New York Magazine! Then I found an email in my inbox from Matador Network, asking to syndicate my post on their site.
Not only was all of this incredibly exciting from a career standpoint, it was amazing to see how many kind messages of support I received from friends, family, and people who identified with my writing. For every hate comment, I received at least 5 supportive messages from people who could relate.
Honestly, I’m so excited to finally have my name out there, and I hope to keep publishing on these sites to let the world know I exist!
2. My First Press Trip Invitation
This month I was invited on my first press trip! What’s a press trip? Basically, an organization or tourism board will invite you on a “free” trip in exchange for blog posts and social media updates. The hope is that you’ll spread the word about how awesome the destination is, and they’ll have more international travelers come check it out.
For me, I’ve always been extremely picky about sponsored things. I’m never going to become a sellout who only does sponsored travel. Personally, I love to travel really slowly while having complete control over my schedule. That said, I’m definitely willing to accept press trips to destinations I’d pay to visit myself, especially if the trip is really cool and attainable for all of you!
Next month a small group of bloggers will be heading to China’s Shaanxi and Ningxia provinces for eight days! Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to get all eight days off work, so I’ll only be heading to Ningxia province. I used to live in Xi’an, so missing out on Shaanxi province isn’t actually that big of a deal for me. But I am bummed to be missing the precarious plank walk of Hua Shan! There’s always next time right…?
Overall, I’m really excited to be taking this first big step in my blogging career. It’s so incredible that 4.5 years of hard work are finally paying off. I’m also really happy about exploring a new province in China!
I’ve been so focused on exploring outside of China, this trip inspired me to create a new goal of visiting all of the provinces in China. What do you think? I’m already at 24/34!!
3. Exploring Beijing in the Beautiful Weather
July’s weather was absolutely awful, but thankfully August has been amazing! I spent all of my days off wandering around my neighborhood, biking to new places, exploring new cafes, bars and restaurants and more. I even found a local neighborhood pool and made a few new friends through this blog/ Snapchat/ traveling Facebook groups.
1. My Coworker Died
Some of you may remember from last month that my coworker died right at the start of August. It was extremely sudden and unexpected and shocked everyone in the entire office. He was only fifty years old and left behind a wife and an adult son. A few days later I had the opportunity to attend his funeral, which was extremely emotional.
I wanted to wait a little bit before writing a post about everything that happened. But I hope to get that published sometime this month.
2. Roommate Issues
Those of you who follow me on Snapchat already know that I was seriously considering moving to a new apartment to escape my roommate situation. Basically, I live in a 5-bedroom apartment, but at any given time we have had up to NINE people staying at my place. One of my roommates loves to invite guests over for weeks without asking, and another roommate moved his girlfriend into the apartment and she’s not paying a cent for anything.
Why didn’t I say something? Well, two of my roommates are leaving, including the guy that invites over all the guests. Since he’s about to leave, I didn’t see the point in creating drama with him. With two roommates leaving and one roommate who is a nonexistent ghost, that left me to deal with the girlfriend situation, which is awkward and unfair. I couldn’t help but feel like maybe it would be better if I just moved to a smaller place with fewer roommates.
I came incredibly close to moving into an apartment with four cats (!!) but the girl I was thinking about rooming with is not willing to compromise on her indoor smoking habit. I also looked at a few other places, and eventually decided to stay in my current place. I like my apartment and I think I have a pretty good deal for Beijing. If I’m going to go through the hassle of moving, I want the pace to be PERFECT.
Honestly, I’m so glad all of this “will I or won’t I” moving drama is over. I lost many hours of sleep over this dilemma, and for a solid two weeks, I felt constantly on edge. Thankfully, one of the girls on the lease just moved back into the apartment, and she agreed that we need to come to a compromise on the girlfriend situation. Now if only she would stop leaving fish out overnight on the counter and put all her clothes in her bedroom and not on the living room floor…
3. Hate Comments and a Personalized Hate Thread
You can’t always have your cake and eat it too. The mild attention I experienced this month came with a TON of hate comments. I have a pretty thin skin, so I couldn’t help but feel my heart beat a little faster every time I read something negative. Eventually, I got used to it, and I realized that 90% of the hate comments came from people who didn’t even read my article.
“Hold on a second. I am searching for some sympathy. I am sure I left it around here somewhere. *starts rummaging through things* Nope. Can’t find it anywhere.” -My Favorite Hater
Once I got used to the hate comments, I was absolutely shocked to find a full-on hate thread about me in a travel blogging Facebook group. Seriously. I almost had a panic attack as I read the catty post and saw the insane number of comments following. Thankfully, this girl didn’t name names and the conversation steered towards the merits of Huffington Post and writing for “exposure” in general, and away from any one person in particular.
I would venture to say that only about three people in this entire thread knew the original rant was aimed at me. Of course, they added a few gossipy comments of their own, critiquing the content of my Huffington Post piece, calling me unoriginal.
You know what is unoriginal? Gossiping about people in an online public forum and going on “rants” about other bloggers. It’s also unprofessional.
The worst article ever. This girl is not ready / does not mean to commit to anyone, and doesnt seem able to build genuine friendships either. – Miss Judgey Pants
These last two months have been a huge life lesson in dealing with haters. Whether it’s friends who don’t mesh with you, or random strangers that just want to hate on your parade. Not everyone is going to like you or appreciate your success.
While it really sucked to read those nasty comments, the amount of support I received from friends and strangers really did make me feel much better. Sometimes it’s easy for people to forget that there’s a real person with feelings on the other side of a computer screen. But if I’m going to keep writing publicly, I need to work on that thicker skin.
Most Popular Post
Obviously, this one goes to my Huffington Post piece about how Travel is Ruining My Love Life, which went mini-viral! I also had a lot of Facebook love for my Confessions of an ESL Teacher in China, which I originally wrote for Go Overseas.
I absolutely love this photo of Penny, the boy-cat who I found walking around on a leash in Wudaoying Hutong near my apartment. I wanted to steal Penny so bad.
Song of the Month
Some of you may have seen me on Snapchat dancing to this song in a banana costume. You’re welcome.
Heads up, this is kind of an elaborate music video, so skip ahead two minutes for the actual song.
What I’m Watching
This month I met up with Lena of Lena Around. She’s living in Beijing so be sure to subscribe to her channel and check out all her awesome videos!
What I’m Reading
Still working on the fifth and final Game of Thrones book (wow it’s so different from the show!), but I also had time to catch up on my favorite blogs.
Backpacking Through Iran With a Girl I Met on Tinder– The Broke Backpacker
If you’re looking for a crazy story, this one is it. How Will from the Broke Backpacker met a girl on Tinder and purchased a “temporary marriage” in Iran so that they could travel together. He’s also currently traveling through Pakistan if you want to read more about his off the beaten path adventrues.
I Don’t Want to Travel The World for a Living– The Sweetest Way
I absolutely love Leah from La Mochilera Diaries’ new re-brand focused on location independence and running a business on the road. This quote from her latest post really stood out to me: “At the end of the day, I truly don’t want to travel the world for a living. I just want to make a living while still having the ability to travel the world…but slowly.” This is literally exactly what I want, but I have no idea how I’m actually going to make my money yet. I guess I still have a year to figure that out…
Shut Up, Wanderlust, Let Me Be Happy– Heart My Backpack
The neverending problems of an expat who also loves to travel. I related a little too much to this one…
Walking Away From What No Longer Serves You– Huffington Post
Divorced at 23. Dropped out of Grad School. Fired from work. All of these should be failures, right? I love this lesson on how you should listen to your inner voice and do what’s best for you.
What’s Next For September 2016
This September is the Mid-Autumn festival! I’ll be attending a mooncake making class tomorrow afternoon, and hopefully hiking the Great Wall for the first time in over four years later this month! I’ll also be heading to Ningxia for my press trip, which will be Chinese province #25!