How to Instantly Improve Your Mood

We all have those day when we are in a funk, feeling sorry for ourselves, having "one of those days" or maybe just can’t stop crying. So what do you do when that happens? You can continue to stay in the funk or you can do one simple thing… SMILE.

I am lucky to have a person in my life who just knows what to do if I am having “one of those days”. He doesn’t try to solve my problems, he listens to my worries, wipes my tears and then pushes me to FAKE IT.

Have you ever heard they saying “fake it until you make it?” Well that is exactly what you need to do to help you in these crappy situations. There have been numerous studies that show those who fake a smile actually find that their mood is elevated after smiling. Smiling can even help lower your heart rate and stress levels.

Sooooo....

Go run to your boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, parents, whomever and say “MAKE ME LAUGH” and smile and laugh at everything they say.

Go outside and just smile, smile at the sky, the bumble bee, literally anything. 

Play with your dog…because we all know dogs make people smile.

It may be uncomfortable to fake a smile and you may fight it but have a person literally time you to smile for at least 30 seconds. You will be surprised of how that little bit helps.

Will this cure your problems? No…but what it will do is make you feel better than how you were feeling.

No matter what mood you are in, we can all use more happiness in our lives…so SMILE.


5 Things To Do and 5 Places to Eat in San Carlos de Bariloche

After only 2 weeks in Buenos Aires, Rob and I felt that we needed to get out of the city and see more of Argentina. So we took the 21-hour bus to San Carlos de Bariloche for 6 days. Visiting Bariloche in March it is normally the start of their fall and starting to cool down, but when we arrived it was 75F every day! This gave us the opportunity to take advantage of the outdoors. Here are some of our reccomendations on what to do and places to eat while visiting Bariloche.

Outdoor Activities:

1. Cerro Campanario

This is THE the best view in Bariloche. It gives you a panoramic view of the mountains and lakes. Truly a spot not to miss! You can either hike up to the top (about 30-40 minutes) or take the chair lift for $120 pesos per person. At the top there is a café where you can get a beer, empanadas, and postres while you enjoy the panoramic view.

Yes...this is real!

Yes...this is real!

2. Horseback Riding

If you have had enough hiking, another great way to see the views is through Horseback Riding. There are many companies in Bariloche, I went with Cabalgatas Haneck, which was a wonderful experience. We did the half-day riding experience (about 2 hrs. of riding) with an Argentina Asado lunch (traditional barbeque) for $800 pesos per person. If you were looking to see the view of the lakes though, I would go with a different company as we only saw the scenery of the national park, which were still beautiful.

3. Fly Fishing 

If you have never fly fished in your life or you are a seasoned fisherman, Bariloche is the place to fly fish! Their best season is November – January, if you want to catch the big fish, but I went in March and still managed to catch 6 fish, although they were very small. The water is crystal clear and views are phenomenal. A full day includes all the equipment and a lunch cooked right on the riverbed by your guide (steak, salad, wine, beer and dessert!). This is definitely an excursion to splurge on as it costs about $400 USD for 2 people. I highly recommend Outfitters Patagonia Fly Fishing, their service is fantastic and were able to cater to a newbie and an intermediate fly fisher.

4. Circuito Chico (Small Circuit)

Although I did not end up doing the Circuito Chico myself, you can bike or take a bus to see the beautiful views of the mountain. I spoke to many people in the hostel who said that biking was intense and was 20km round trip, about 12 ½ miles, but worth the adventure and views. You can rent bikes in various parts of the circuit.

5. Parque Municipal Llao-Llao

If you are not a very intense hiker, hiking to the top of Cerrito Llao Llao is a great half-day hike. It took us about 1 ½ hrs. to hike up, brought a lunch and enjoyed the view for about another hour (because it is that amazing). You take the bus 20 from the center of town to the very last stop at Llao Llao hotel. You will walk past the hotel and port about ½ a mile until you see a sign for the park. There are a variety of paths in the area, which also lead to little beaches if you want to relax.

Other suggestions recommended to us that we did not have time to do were:

  • Rent a car and drive through the seven lakes (full day trip)
  • Hike up to Cerro Catedral (full day hike)
  • Visit Colonia Suiza (which has a market on Wednesdays and the weekends)

**Villa La Angostura – I would recommend only traveling to Villa La Angostura if you are passing by or just stopping for lunch. There is much more to do in Bariloche and not worth the 1 ½ hr. bus there.

 

Places to Eat in Bariloche:

This is my favorite topic because I LOVE to eat. I personally always recommend going to the fancier/more expensive restaurants for lunch, if they are open, as you do not have the pay the dinner charge and they sometimes have great deals on executive menus. Also remember, when you order sides, they are normally sides to share with the table!

1. Milanesa

La Fonda del Tio – This is where you will find great Milanesa for a great price! Rob and I love Milanesa, which is basically veal parmesan, just the Argentine way. Definitely go there for dinner because 1 milanesa is so large it feeds the both of you! Since we are a fan of the Italian veal Parmesan, we got the Milanesa Napolitana, which has a lot of cheese and some sauce. we call it the meat pizza. For two people it cost us under $300 pesos($24USD), which included 2 waters, 2 sides and the meal! It is definitely a local spot so get there in-between 8 and 830 as it fills by 9 and there is a weight. I do not think they make reservations.

It is so large it hangs out of the plate!

It is so large it hangs out of the plate!

2. Beer

Manush – If you’re looking for some good beer, good food and fun environment then Manush is the place! They have a downstairs and upstairs outdoor patio and inside seating. Every night the place was packed for their happy hour of ½ off beer! I thoroughly enjoyed the Honey Beer. The food was delicious as well! ***There are many cervecerias in Bariloche so make sure you check the rest out too!

3. Chocolate

Mamuschka – Bariloche is known for it’s chocolate and with a chocolate shop on every corner, Mamushka is delicious. We just ate the chocolate, but you can sit and have a pastry or torta with tea or coffee. If you are a dark chocolate fan, you will be out of luck as their limited dark chocolate is sub par in Bariloche.

4. Steak

El Boliche de Alberto – In about a 1-block span there are 3 of these restaurants! Crazy I know, but you can either go to their Parilla (steak house) or their pasta restaurant. I chose the parilla and it was delicious! We ordered a Bife de Lomo, which is tenderloin and tried the lamb as well.  We got a side of papas fritas and a salad and wine. We spent about $20USD a person (wine, steak, 2 sides, and water).

Alto el Fuego – I did not have a chance to make it to Alto el Fuego but many people I spoke to who did said it was the best steak they had in all of Argentina! If you get a chance, I would check it out and make a reservation!

5. Mexican

Dias de Zapata – If you are feeling Mexican, then you are in luck! It is definitely not the same Mexican food I am use to in the states but it definitely satisfied my Mexican cravings. I ordered the chicken Fajitas and Rob ordered a Burrito. You will also not get chips and salsa but you will get BREAD and salsa for the table! Interesting, but the “salsa” is quite good since Argentina doesn’t do Mexican salsa. Service was average but only go if you are in the mood for Mexican as there are many other great restaurants to try out.

 

Have you ever traveled to Bariloche? Feel free to share your comments below as to what you did when you visited the city, I would love to hear about other peoples adventures!

 


The Answer To All Of Your Relationship Problems

Have you ever wondered what the “magic potion” is to fixing your problems in a relationship? Well, I may not have a PhD in relationship counseling and have not conducted experiments or researched this answer, but I can tell you something that can help...

TALKING!

Really…. The answer to all of my problems in my relationship is talking. Talking = having an open and respectful dialogue full of “I” statements and respectful requests.

First… you must be aware of THE MOST IMPORTANT IDEA OF A RELATIONSHIP, the 5 to 1 rule.

For every 1 cost of a relationship there MUST be at least 5 rewards. If this is not the case in your relationship…it’s probably not going to work out...sorry

(It’s called the social exchange theory if you want to learn more)

I have been living with my boyfriend Rob for the past 20 days in Argentina and we have been together for literally 23.5/7 (I exclude a half for when we have alone time in the bathroom). But seriously, when you live with someone, you are not normally together 24/7! Typically people living together go to work on their own, have special interests on their own, and then see each other in the evenings.

So, with this constant togetherness, there ought to be some arguing…right? Wrong!

In the 7 months of our relationship and the past 20 days of living 24/7 together, there has not been 1 argument. Today was the first day when I thought, oh maybe we will have our “first argument” as I was feeling a need for some independence and space. But what ended up happening is that we just talked.

I know there are many factors that go into a relationship and this is most likely not going to fix all of your problems in your relationship. But there are a few things I learned in a Close Relationships course at UConn that have completely changed how to handle conflict in relationships.

The more unexpressed annoyances and irritants partners have, the less satisfied they tend to be in their relationship... SO LET THEM OUT!

People handle conflicts differently; I for one use to always hold in what was bothering me until one day I would just explode and let everything plus the kitchen sink out. But it is best to express your conflict ASAP and not let it build, but express your conflict correctly.

I give you 1 challenge:

If something is bothering you in your relationship, try a different method. Approach your partner respectfully and start with an "I" statement, for example:

"Rob, when we go grocery shopping, I feel as though I do not have as much as a say with what we pick for dinner. I would appreciate it if next time I would have more of a say with what we get for dinner." (This is a real conflict that happened tonight FYI)

VS.

"Rob, you don’t let me pick out food I want to get for dinner, you are so controlling!"

See a difference? In the first situation you are expressing YOUR OWN feelings and using “I” statements where the second you are ATTACKING the other person, even if you are calmly speaking. The second scenario causes the other person to put up a shield for protection. Accusation statements just go down hill and are start of the YOU DO THIS, AND YOU DO THAT arguments.

It may be hard at first, but if a couple can make it a habit of using “I” statements and respectful requests, it can really help a relationship.

Here is a great workbook from my former Professor, Heather Lagace, that has many activities on how to think, act, and understand your relationships differently. http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Healthier-Relationship-Heather-Lagace-ebook/dp/B009YZ9E0O

Good Luck Love Birds!


Argentina's 21 Hour Bus Ride from Buenos Aires to Bariloche

One thing Rob and I wanted to do while in Argentina was seeing the countryside so we decided to travel to San Carolos de Bariloche. There are 2 ways to get there…fly or take a 20-24 hour bus ride. So we decided to do both! We took the bus down to Bariloche and will be flying back to Buenos Aires.

Yes, you heard it, we were on a non-stop bus from Buenos Aires to Bariloche for 21 hours!

For you fellow travelers who think a 20-24 hr bus ride is for you, I would like to share with you our experience, as there wasn’t a lot of information out there for us when we were researching.

Just to put the bus trip into perspective, Buenos Aires to Bariloche is around 1,000 miles, so to compare it to a trip in the United States, it is like driving from New York City to Memphis, TN. Except once you get outside of the Buenos Aires, there is nothing but wide open land!

Should you fly or take a bus?

A few questions to ask yourself when planning how to get to the countryside of Argentina:

  • Do I have a time constraint?
    • Yes - then a bus trip may not be the best for you as it is a full day of travel just one way. Depending on your time constraint you can always take a bus one-way and fly back another. Flight from BA to Bariloche is about 2 hrs
    • No - the bus can give you a free nights sleep and a new travel experience. Bus ride from BA to Bariloche 20-24 hrs
  • Do I have a tight budget?
    • Yes, then traveling by bus can save you a few hundred dollars on travel! One way bus ticket cost 107USD vs. a one way flight cost 221 USD per person.
    • No, then you can still take the bus to save some money, take a plane, or do both!
  • Is this a last minute trip?
    • Many times you can go to the Retiro station and buy a bus ticket for a trip that day! Although I would advice a few days in advance to make sure you get a good seat, but if that doesn’t bother you then you will be fine. Buses leave every 10 minutes from the Retiro station to travel all over the country. You can go to the Retiro website and see what time the buses leave to your destination.

How to book a bus trip from Buenos Aires to Bariloche (most likely applicable to other places in the country as well)

  1. Purchase tickets at the Retiro Station in Buenos Aires. You can purchase them online but to get the best conversion rate purchase them in person with pesos.
  2. Make sure you go to Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro. There is a train station as well but it is a walk away from the bus station, and the area is not the best to be walking in. This link is helpful in the directions to the station and planning which bus you are going to take. http://www.omnilineas.com/argentina/tips/retiro/
  3. Walk up to the second floor and then you will see about 200 ticket booths (most just repeats of the same thing). I recommend doing your research on the bus company you want to take. You will also need your passport number so be prepared
    1. We took Via Bariloche - Cama Ejectivo - Summary of the different classes are on the website http://www.omnilineas.com/argentina/tips/categories/
  4. The day of your travel, I would say get there no later than 30 minutes before the bus leaves. The bus terminals are on the first floor of the building. They normally do not announce what platform the bus will be at until 20 minutes before it leaves.

Bus Travel (Via Bariloche)

I can only speak for bus travel through Via Bariloche through Cama Ejectivo but would recommend you check out this website below for a some more information about general bus travel in Buenos Aires. http://travel-stained.com/2013/04/17/buenos-dias-buenos-aires-bus-travel-in-argentina/

Rob and I had the two front row seats of the top of the bus and we had a great panoramic view of our journey. The buses recline in between 45-60 degrees back with a footrest. Via Bariloche provided a thick blanket and small pillow for the trip.

Basic information to be aware of when traveling on buses in Argentina

Food

  • Bring plenty of snacks and water! Our bus left at 2:00pm and was not given any snacks or drink until about 5:30. The snack consisted of a pre-packaged packet of an alfajores, saltine crackers, jam and tea or coffee. We were lucky that we brought a lunch with us, otherwise we would have been starving!
  • Dinner – We were fed dinner at 9:30, typical for Argentines, and the food consisted of another prepackaged meal. The meal consisted of 3 slices of ham with rice with a mayonnaise base (wasn’t too bad), more crackers, bread, dulce de leche, and flan. When we first received our meal we were disappointed there was not a larger “meal”. But after about 10 minutes later they brought us a hot meal that had beef and mashed potatoes.
  • Breakfast – Breakfast was served at 9:00am and consisted of the same thing as the snack the day before, not very breakfast like.

 

General Tips

  • Bring lots of water, snacks/sandwiches/fruit.
  • Wet wipes or hand sanitizer, as our bus ran out of running water.
  • Ear Plugs! The bus plays movies and music on the speakers so if you do not want to listen to them then bring earplugs. You also don’t want to end up like me and sit next to a very loud snorer!
  • Check your bus line before hand to see if they even feed or provide you blankets as I have read many do not, depending on the length and class.
  • It is worth the experience to take the bus at least once, but if you can afford it, then flying is the way to go.

I hope sharing my adventure through Argentina Bus travel will help at-least one person in the future with their travel plans.

Make sure to look out for my next blog post about our adventures in Bariloche!


I Get Knocked Down…. But I Get Up Again!

"I get knocked down
 but I get up again
 you're never going to hold me down"

True words of the notorious song by “Chumbawamba” and true words of my first week here in Buenos Aires.

WARNING!! I just returned from “The Argentine Experience” and am a little food and wine drunk…

I went into this trip with such specific expectations and after being here those expectations have been completely knocked down. I thought the purpose of my trip was to volunteer and learn Spanish. I did not want to pay to volunteer and ASS-U-ME(D) that I would be able to find ways to volunteer while I am down here, but that was not the case. And the Spanish down here is quiteeee different than other Spanish speaking countries and making learning Spanish much harder to learn than expected.

*Note: There are many ways to volunteer in Buenos Aires but require at least 4 weeks of committed volunteering, which is completely understandable. By the time we found the organizations we did not have 4 weeks to give down here.

After feeling like a complete failure of a trip to Buenos Aires, I cried… felt that there was no hope and looked into the option of flying home early.

I wanted to give up.

Why did I want to give up? Because my purpose of being here was not becoming a reality

After talking to Rob, my mom, researching options, we decided to for now just focus on enjoying our time here in Buenos Aires.

So on March 8, 2015 with the help of Buenos Aires Local Tours “Pay What You Want”, our perspective started to change. We had Quincy (Native from Arizona who studied abroad in Argentina 6 years ago and fell in love with an Argentine and never left) show us around The City Center, take us on the public transportation, and put our extreme safety worries to ease.

If you are planning on traveling to Buenos Aires you will hear a lot of “It’s not safe,” “You need to be careful”, “You wont fit in (since I am blonde)” etc. etc. etc. So Rob and I have been living in fear of the dangers in Buenos Aires, where honestly the worst thing that would happen to us, most likely, is that our purse or wallet would be stolen.

I do not want to jinx myself, so knock on some wood for me, but Buenos Aires is like NYC to me. Don’t walk in empty allies or the extreme hours of the night with bling, iPhones and flashy things. Be smart and trust your gut.

I feel as though I am rambling as the wine and food coma/drunk is causing me to lose my train of thought…

So am I giving up?

NO!

Am I changing my originally story/plan for the trip?

            Yes…

Have I felt like a complete failure to planning this trip?

            Yessss

Do I still feel that way?

            NO!

At the end of the day…I am living in Buenos Aires, in a new country, learning things I never thought I would learn about. It is about changing my perspective and stepping outside of myself.

Every challenge is an opportunity – stated by Rob LaBonne

I can’t wait to share with you all about my experiences with:

  • CARNE (beef)
  • VINTO TINTO (red wine)
  • SWOLLEN FEET
  • MEETING CECILIA AND FRANCISCO
  • CROSSFIT
  • BARILOCHE
  • HOW TO GO ABOUT PLANNING A TRIP
  • AND TINY ELBOWS!
Sneak peak from "The Argentine Experience" with one of the amazing hosts Fernando

Sneak peak from "The Argentine Experience" with one of the amazing hosts Fernando

 

HASTA LUEGO!

Rob...We aren't in Connecticut anymore!

So it is technically day 3 here in Buenos Aires and boy is it starting to hit me as to where I really am! First off…neither of us know Spanish, on top of that the Argentinian money exchange is so confusing because there is an official exchange and a blue dollar rate (which is technically illegal but you get a better deal) so we have not had the local currency and have felt a little stuck. Our Spanish lessons were also supposed to start today but unfortunately she lost power and had to cancel until tomorrow.

This is both of our first time going to a country, for a month, and creating our own experience. Lets say right now…we lack structure. It is a bit stressful but this is part of the journey, we are learning! We are definitely feeling outside of our comfort-zones. This morning it was torrential down pouring so we waited until the rain let up to explore the outdoors. I do not have rain boots so I threw on a pair of rubber flip-flops, grabbed my rain jacket and we headed out the door to do some more exploring within Palermo. (By the way, rubber flip-flops=blistered feet)

We decide to adventure and find a local CrossFit gym, since we both want to stay in shape while we are down here, and on the way search for a bank so we can at least have some money on us (although the rate is not good through the banks). As we start our journey, we stop at one bank, which kept asking for pin codes that we didn’t have…so we continued to walk down the street towards the gym. We stopped at a McDonalds to see if they would give us change in pesos from US dollars and get some WIFI…UNFORTUNATELY the largest bill they would take is a $20 AND they do not have WIFI. Finally we find success at Banco de la Nacion Argentina, although, I would NOT recommend getting money from a bank, if you do not have to. (I will explain why this is later on)

So now we feel a little having some local currency on us and continue our journey to the CrossFit gym…or we thought!

Below is a picture of our walking directions to the CrossFit gym. We immediately think the walk won't be bad because Google maps always over estimates times but it was taking much longer than 25 minutes. So we reached Av Santa Fe 4000 and decide to call it quits. We are never going to go to a gym that takes so long to get to!

Walking path from our apartment to the CrossFit gym

Walking path from our apartment to the CrossFit gym

So at the end of the day we both realized…we need to start to have some structure on this trip. We did some more exploring around Palermo, had lunch, stopped for an espresso and have been in our apartment doing extensive research to put some structure into this trip.

We have yet to go out to a restaurant for dinner but instead have been making our own meals! Tonight we made a rice and meat dish, is it Argentinean? I don't know...but it was delicious, cheaper than eating out, and healthy!

Meat, Veggies, Carbs and don't forget the Wine!

Meat, Veggies, Carbs and don't forget the Wine!

 

Now this post may seem a like we are little hopeless…but do not worry because we do have some great things coming up this week!

Wednesday – Start Spanish lessons

Thursday – Meeting up with a local couple, Francisco and Cecilia, for a BBQ

Saturday – Enjoy “The Argentine Experience” http://theargentineexperience.com/index/

In the meantime we are planning multiple tours throughout the city and hopefully a trip to Bariloche!

 

 

 

Hola de Buenos Aires

Well the day finally arrived that my boyfriend Rob and I hopped on a flight to Buenos Aires to start a crazy month long adventure! So you may be thinking…why the heck is Sam in Argentina for a whole month? Well that’s a great question!

After studying abroad on Semester at Sea, I realized that I want to see so much more of the world and how important it is to learn another language. I am not here with a program or for school, but we are creating our own unique adventure. I recently graduated from UConn in December and immediately reached the WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE stage. I started the job search…had some interviews for jobs that were good options but nothing I was dying to do. So I took a step back and decided to do something crazy. So here I am!

Now, I am not just gallivanting and living the high life in Buenos Aires. This isn’t a luxurious vacation, there is a purpose for being here. I will be taking intensive Spanish Lessons 5 days a week, learning the passionate tango, cook like a native, and most importantly be leaving my personal footprint or legacy in this country. In the process of living in Buenos Aires, I hope to open my eyes to my passions in life, which will help me see a bigger picture as to what I want my future and career to entail.

Today is only our first full day in this country and I can’t wait to share our experiences with you all. So make sure to stop back here to read about what is happening on this side of the world!

Oh I also want to point out that this beautiful website was created by Rob as an early birthday gift! 

If you have every been to Argentina and have any suggestions with what to see/do please comment below, we would love your suggestions!