It’s Where The Heart Is

I was uprooted last December.

Weston FL

I was excited to be back in South Florida celebrating Christmas after a one-year hiatus when I found out that my parents — divorced over 10 years, but always living within 10 minutes of each other — were moving back to their respective home countries. They were both living in Latin America by February. All of a sudden, Christmas 2014 became my last Christmas at home, for real this time. (Not “my last Christmas at home before college, x, y, or z.”)

Not only did I have to essentially mourn the loss of my parents’ proximity to me, but I also had to mourn the loss of my hometown. Yes, it’s still there to visit, but it won’t be the same. I don’t know when I’ll be back, and when I am, I won’t get to stay at my mom’s house, or in my childhood bedroom. Those roots are gone. It’s a moment I knew would eventually come, but I wasn’t expecting at 24.

Now, I’m really not sure what “home” means. My place of origin will always be Florida. The familiarity is comforting — the friends, the food, the Publix stores, the humidity, the mazes of highways that I can’t drive but are still etched into my mind. But it’s not my home base anymore, and I never necessarily fit into the stereotype: the hustling, the glamour, the swag that South Florida thinks it’s all about.

Is Philly my home? That would imply that I consider myself a Philadelphian, but I don’t. Arguing about what makes someone a “true” Philadelphian (or New Yorker, Miamian, etc.) is neither here nor there, but it’s not a way I choose to identify myself right now.

For me, it keeps coming back to the idea of love and friendship. For the most part, when I’m with my friends — from growing up, or college, or now Philly  — and my family — Nick and Zamboni included — I feel happy and at peace. For now, that feeling is home. I’m laying down roots again, and who knows how long or how deep these will take hold.

Over Colombia

This past Saturday, I flew to see my mom in Colombia: the first time I’m here in four years, the first time I’ve been here since my grandparents passed away, and the first time I’ve been here since my mom made her old home her new home. It’s been less than 48 hours, but it feels different. Some of the places and faces have changed, and I have a new place to call home (for a week): my mom’s apartment, where I can be myself and speak English as freely as I want.

On the trip down, I had the briefest of layovers at the Miami airport. It felt completely foreign to my body — I’ve never had the need for a layover there in my life. It was always the start of my adventure or my final stop, not a stepping stone. I spent most of my time back in Miami waiting in line at a Cafe Versailles stand. The guava pastelito I bought, that tasted like home too. 

The Best Career Advice From Her Conference

Her Conference Career Advice

via Instagram

I spent this past weekend at Her Conference, an annual conference for college women and recent graduates who are interested in the journalism, marketing and journalism industries. While I may not be looking for my next internship or first job any more, it was still incredibly inspiring to hear industry leaders share their honest advice. Here are some of the gems.

On being a woman in the workplace…

Supporting women never goes out of style.”
, Director, No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project

You don’t deserve everything; you deserve to earn everything.”
, Vice President of Editorial Strategy, Refinery29

Nobody can take away your knowledge. Nobody can take away your hard work.”
, Correspondent, E! News

Being a woman means waking up earlier, going to bed later and working harder.”
, Founder and CEO, Faith Popcorn’s Brain Reserve

On asking for help…

We have to accept the idea that we are all going to fail a little.”
, Editor-in-Chief, Seventeen

It was years of me being defensive before I realized that asking for help is built into the system.”
, Editor, People StyleWatch

On standing out (in the best way possible)…

Nothing beats preparation.”

It’s ok to put yourself forward.”
, Special Projects Director, Cosmopolitan

The answer is always just do good work.”

Confidence is like a muscle; you have to work on it every day.”

Knowing how to write and communicate are the greatest skills you can have.”

On finding your place…

You don’t have to be where you want to end up on Day 1.”

You have to find something that makes you feel like you’re giving back to the world and using your talents.”

Choose an organization that is thoughtful about [work-life balance].”
, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Chairman, Bloomberg LP

What’s your favorite piece of career advice?

~ Sarah

Last-Minute Her Conference Packing List

On Friday afternoon, I’ll be hopping on an Amtrak and heading to New York for Her Conference 2015! HerCampus.com, a site I wrote and edited for in college, launched the conference four years ago and it’s my third time going! It’s geared towards collegiettes (i.e., college women) interested in the media industry as well as bloggers. This time, I really will feel like a post-grad (the last time I went was in 2013, a couple months after graduating Fordham), which is crazy! Since it’s not my first rodeo, I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned from past conferences.

Let’s start with your supplies (besides your smartphone, of course!):

Her Campus Her Conference Essentials

Pen & Notebook: Chances are both will be included in your goody bag, but if you have a dedicated blogging notebook (I actually use this one from Poppin), don’t forget it!

Portable Phone Charger: Tweeting and Instagramming is definitely encouraged at Her Conference, which means a lot of time on your phone! There’s only so many outlets and charging stations available at in the conference space, so a portable phone charger or power bank is clutch (especially if it’s cute too).

Mini/Disposable Toothbrush: Her Conference is a long day. Fun and empowering, but exhausting! Breakfast, lunch and snacks are served to help you power through, but a quick restroom stop to brush your teeth will help you feel refreshed!

Blotting Papers: You may not use blotting papers throughout the day, but when you arrive at the conference after a long walk or sweaty subway ride, you’ll be glad to have them on hand (plus they won’t ruin your makeup). Also useful if you have post-Conference plans and don’t have time to freshen up. New York in July is no breeze!

Business Cards & Case: You put lots of time in perfecting your business cards (I actually just got my newest ones from MOO on Monday — highly recommend them!), but the presentation isn’t complete without a classy case to hold them in.

Some other tips:

  • Dress for fashionable functionality. It’ll be hot outside, but the room temperature can definitely fluctuate, even from room to room. Layers are a must! I recommend a cardigan or blazer, depending on your personal style. Also, consider flats. When I wore heels, my feet were definitely sore by the end of the day. Keep it collegiette chic!
  • Review the schedule beforehand. There’s only so much room for each session, so a quick look at the schedule will help you prioritize. If you’re part of the Her Campus team and can attend the conference on Saturday and Sunday, some of the sessions do overlap, albeit with different panelists.
  • Pack light. This isn’t just referring to what you bring with you (besides the above, you really shouldn’t need too much extra!). You will be acquiring stuff, from goody bags to potential giveaways, so make sure you leave room to bring everything back home with you!

Have you been to any blogging conferences? Share your essentials in the comments! If you’re going to Her Conference, don’t forget to say hi!

~ Sarah