Best of 2020…So Far

swaggie maggie quarantine edition

this week has been a long year

It’s hard to remember that we’re actually at the beginning of 2020. The absolute craziness of this year has caused the first few months to feel like multiple years instead of weeks. We started the year with terrible wildfires, #worldwar3 trending on twitter, and now COVID-19. It’s not the best start to 2020. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the world, but I want to remind everyone that good things are still happening.

Even while it feels like the world is falling apart, there are many things to be happy about. The sun is shining where I live, I’m home with my family, and I have a wonderful job with wonderful coworkers that will be waiting for me when the dust settles. There is also a lot of new music that has already been released in 2020! Here are a few of my favorite songs of 2020 so far.

the 1975: me & you together song

This wouldn’t be an article on Swaggie Maggie if I didn’t mention my love for The 1975. Their newest album Notes On A Conditional Form is set to release on April 24th, and this single has gotten me so excited for it to finally be here! “Me & You Together Song” is a song I’d want to listen to in my car at night during the summer. It’s breezy and youthful with punk undertones and a poppy melody. This is the kind of song that makes me think of summer love and sunsets. If this is what I have to look forward to on the rest of the new album, I’ll be one happy girl!

The Killers: Caution

I’ve been waiting for new music from The Killers since I saw them live back in 2018. Their stage presence and pure talent made me fall deeper in love with their music and become a super-fan. Their upcoming album “Imploding The Mirage” is sure to be a musical masterpiece, much like their other albums have been. The band throws “Caution” to the wind as this upbeat cry of restlessness and storytelling.

all time low: getaway green

In this time of uncertainty, it’s always nice to find something that is familiar yet new and exciting at the same time. Enter All Time Low’s new song “Getaway Green.” The band has blessed 2020 with something we all need: a classic pop-punk song. It’s upbeat, gritty, and tons of fun to sing along with. It reminds me of long summer days and working hard.

the weeknd: in your eyes

I’ve always been a casual fan of The Weeknd. His music has been a staple in the soundtrack of my life pretty much since he hopped onto the scene. It always seems like one of his songs ends up being important in my life, even though I’ve never actively sought out music by him to listen to. His latest album After Hours caught my eyes because of all of the hype I’d been seeing about it through work. The first song I decided to listen to was “In Your Eyes” and I was HOOKED. It’s sexy, groovy, and both so typically The Weeknd as well as so new.

haim: the steps

While the HAIM sisters have unfortunately had to postpone the release of their new album Women in Music Part III until summer, they’ve still given us an EP to tide us over! The Steps is a perfectly balanced EP with only 4 songs. It includes “Summer Girl” and “Now I’m In It,” two of my favorite songs to blast in my car. They’re typical HAIM, but truly so good. Plain and simple.

2020 vision but for music

There have been so many new songs and albums released in 2020 so far, and it makes me excited to see what the rest of the year has in store for us! No matter how crazy things get or how stressful life is, there’s always new and old music to turn to.

-Swaggie Maggie

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Let’s Stream Live Music

swaggie maggie: quarantine edition

The age of live stream. It’s a way of life at this point. Especially when we’re all quarantined within our own homes. There’s no secret, we’re dealing with a global pandemic, unlike anything we’ve ever lived through. It’s scary and stressful. Fake news and scare tactics are abundant. We’re all stuck inside to stop the spread of COVID-19. For many of us, this is uncharted territory. In times of uncertainty or anxiety, I always turn to music for an escape.

Personally, my favorite way to consume music is live. That’s why I found a career in the live music industry. But going to a concert isn’t something I can do right now. Everyone is looking for ways to consume live music from the comfort of their couch. It’s also obvious to me that musicians and artists are looking for ways to provide music, art, and comedy with their fans who need it. That’s where streamable concerts come in.

Instagram live Stream

Many artists are turning to Instagram Live as a way to connect with their fans. Some are using the platform to stream concerts or acoustic sets. Others are using it in more of a Q and A or talk show setting. I’m a big fan of John Mayer’s “Current Mood” series and I’ve been enjoying watching Miley Cyrus’ “Bright Minded” as well.

As far as live concerts on Instagram go, there have been many that I’ve loved watching. John Legend’s piano set with Chrissy Teigen was both funny and sweet. The perfect balance of entertainment in a stressful time. Legend partnered with WHO and Global Citizen to contribute to their #TogetherAtHome campaign which promotes a sense of community even though we are all staying home and practicing social distancing.

npr Music’s Tiny desk concert

One of my favorite things to stream (even before this craziness) is NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert. These concerts are short and sweet, but they definitely pack a punch. They’re heartfelt and intimate. It’s like watching the biggest artist perform just for you. I really enjoy seeing which songs artists choose to include in their concerts because there are so many to choose from. You really get a sense of which songs they love performing. Here are a few of my favorite Tiny Desk Concerts.

Technically this isn’t a Tiny Desk Concert, but Hobo Johnson’s entry for the Tiny Desk Contest is one of my favorite live performances to watch period.

Stream

wgbh music

This Boston radio station is an incredible resource for live music lovers. I have watched multiple concerts on their YouTube channel and have felt like I was actually there at the show! Their channel features a series called “Front Row Boston” which provides fans with high quality, full concert videos to stream. If you’re looking to watch something longer than an Instagram hangout or a Tiny Desk Concert, head to WGBH Music on YouTube to stream countless concerts!

concert memories

My last suggestion depends on how many concert videos you have saved from your favorite shows you’ve been to. Sure, they take up a ton of space on your phone, and nobody really cares about watching them on your story, but this is the PERFECT time to re-watch them yourself. You can re-live your happy memories of seeing your favorite band live. You might be surprised by what you decided to take video of during a show. I love looking through videos I’ve taken at concerts and remembering how happy I was to be in the room with my favorite musicians.

I hope these suggestions inspire you to find more ways to consume live music, even while we are all stressed out at home.

-Swaggie Maggie

 

How To Make the Perfect Playlist

Swaggie Maggie: quarantine edition

It’s official. We’re all stuck in our homes until further notice and there’s nothing to do. We all are experiencing the same thing. You wake up, drink a cup of coffee with breakfast, waste your day on the internet, eat dinner, drink some wine, and go to sleep. The next day is the same. And so is the next day. I’m going to challenge myself to change my routine and I hope you will too. On the blog, I’m planning on writing something every day. These could be opinion pieces, how-tos, a playlist, or throwback memories. Honestly, the options are endless.

This first post is dedicated to helping you create the perfect playlist. I make playlists constantly. They become the soundtrack of my seasons and they help me process my emotions when things in my life get crazy. Consider this your all-inclusive, step-by-step guide in creating a playlist. By using this formula, you’ll be able to create the perfect mix of songs for any occasion.

Quarantine and chill

First things first; name your playlist. For this playlist, I’m going to name it “Quarantine and Chill”. I like to create a name that makes me smile when I look at it and that is related to what the playlist is actually about. For example, a spring playlist would be called “Spring has Sprung” or simply “Spring.” A playlist about falling in love could be named “Falling” or “My Heart Went Oops.” You get the idea. My friend Olivia made a quarantine playlist called “Quarantunes” and its genius. So pick a name and move on to step two.

The Playlist

Now comes the fun part! It’s time to choose which songs should go into your playlist. Here’s how I do it. I start with a song that I have been listening to on repeat for the past few days or weeks. I know that it’s what I want to hear so it’s the first thing song on the playlist.

For the second song, pick something that makes you feel nostalgic. This could be a song that you loved in the past or a song that makes you think of simpler times. This one should be personal for you. When I’m feeling nostalgic, my brain floods with memories and I feel a little wistful and romantic. For my nostalgic song, I’m picking “America” by Simon and Garfunkel because it reminds me of travel and freedom.

The next song should be something that literally pertains to what you’re making the playlist about. So for my third song, I’ll choose something that is about staying inside, being alone, and taking one for the team.

Now, pick a song that always makes you smile when you hear it. This can be any song, it just has to make you smile. And not a little grin, a big, stupid, full-face smile that’s plastered there the whole time the song is on. You know what I’m talking about. If you have to think about this one for a little while that’s okay because the point is to have something in the playlist that makes you truly joyful while you’re listening to it. For this playlist, my happy song is “I Think He Knows” by Taylor Swift. I’ve been obsessed with Lover since it came out and this song just gets me to smile every single time I hear it. And, if you know me, you know I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan so I have to have one of her songs on this playlist!

Throwback vs. nostalgic

Okay, so for the fifth song you should pick a throwback song. This could get a little confusing because it is not the same as your nostalgic song. While most throwback songs are nostalgic, not all nostalgic songs have to be throwbacks. A throwback song should take your mind to an exact moment of your life when you hear it. This song should be something you used to listen to constantly or something that reminds you of a specific time or experience.

Now it’s time to slow the playlist down a little bit. This song should be calming and mellow. It should make you feel at ease. The benefit of choosing to put a smooth song in the  middle of your playlist is that it will give you a chance to just lie down and listen to the music for a few minutes. A lot of times, when I’m listening to music I can’t help but start dancing if it has an upbeat tempo, so including a calm song creates a nice contrast.

For the seventh song, you should choose a song that you genuinely just want to listen to. Like if you were going to play a song right now, you’d probably choose this song. This will make you more likely to press play on this playlist when you have the opportunity to.

Now, pick another situational song. You want the playlist to be a bit thematic. You should think of another song that is relatable and adds to the entire mix by being relevant.

For the ninth song, pick something that makes you feel invincible. You know the songs that make the hairs on your arms and on the back of your neck stand up? And you get butterflies? And sometimes you tear up a little bit?

Time for a dance break! Pick a song that makes you want to get up and dance every single time you hear it. Because this song makes your toes start tapping and you can’t help but move.

Bonus Songs

After about ten songs, you can start either repeating the process above or doing some freestyle within the playlist. I usually like to add a song that makes me cry, a song I know all the lyrics to, and a song that I haven’t listened to in a long time. You can make your playlists as long or as short as you prefer, but I like to keep them at about 10-20 songs.

Enjoy the playlist

Finally, it’s time to enjoy the playlist you’ve created! Crank the volume all the way up and let the sounds and lyrics and rhythm touch your body and soul. Dance like nobody’s watching, sing at the top of your lungs and cry if you feel like it (I promise, it’s healthy). I hope you like this Quarantine and Chill playlist, I certainly do. Now you can create the perfect playlist for any situation or experience without any hesitation. Have fun!

-Swaggie Maggie

Unique Venues in Detroit

As a music lover, Detroit Rock City was a great place to grow up. The city is filled with music history, local bands, and venues fit for any artist. Each musical venue that the city has to offer is unique. The artists that play there, the vibes, and the historical significance combine to create thrilling concert experiences that are exclusive to the motor city. Here are some of the most unique concert venues you should check out when you are in Detroit.

 Saint Andrew’s Hall

Built in 1907, Saint Andrew’s Hall was used as the meeting place for the Saint Andrew’s Scottish Society of Detroit. During World War II the membership dwindled and other groups began renting the building for concerts and events. In the 80s, Saint Andrew’s became highly regarded as a trendsetting music club. Breakthrough artists such as Iggy Pop, NirvanaPearl Jam, and Bob Dylan have graced the stage at Saint Andrew’s. More recently, the hall has become a launching pad for up and coming artists. Pierce the Veil, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and more have played here before moving to larger venues. With a 1,000-person capacity, Saint Andrew’s is a mid-size venue that allows for personal interaction between artists and fans. With a full-service bar, ADA seating, and Greektown right down the street, Saint Andrew’s Hall is a great venue for every concert goer.

The Shelter

Located beneath Saint Andrew’s Hall, The Shelter is one of the more intimate venues in Detroit. While it is connected to Saint Andrew’s, a show at The Shelter is unlike any other. It’s an intimate venue with capacity at 400 people. Visitors can get as close to the stage as humanly possible without being up there with the performers. Something interesting about The Shelter is its role in Eminem’s musical career. While the venue was featured in “8 Mile” Eminem actually rapped there in the early years of his career. More recently the rapper hosted a “Mom’s Spaghetti” pop-up event at The Shelter to promote his latest album “Revival” and he went back to his roots to film some freestyle rap in 2018. Eminem’s unique relationship with The Shelter makes it one of the most fascinating venues in Detroit. While you may not find Slim Shady at The Shelter on a random night, there’s no denying the energy that the venue holds in its bones.

The Masonic Temple

The Detroit Masonic Temple is one of the most beautiful and historic music venues in Southeastern Michigan. Architectural firm, George Mason and Company completed construction in 1926. The first performers at The Masonic were Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The building itself is full of interesting rooms. There are three theaters in the venue, but one is currently used by film production. Other rooms include a chapel, two ballrooms, office spaces, a cafeteria, a dining room, a barber shop, and sixteen bowling lanes. Today, the venue hosts countless concerts, building tours, private events, and weddings. Artists that frequent The Masonic are Lana Del Rey, Tyler, The Creator, and The Killers. With a diverse range of music that rolls through, the venue offers something for every concertgoer. The venue sits on the corner of Temple and Cass which is now a part of “The District Detroit” which offers countless trendy restaurants, breweries, and small businesses to check out before a show.

Little Caesars Arena

The opening of Little Caesars Arena is one of the most exciting things to happen in Detroit recently. During its inaugural year (2017/18) LCA easily became a staple of Detroit by hosting a myriad of exciting events. The arena is home to Red Wings hockey, and Pistons basketball, but it also hosts the hottest artists that come to town. Superstars from every genre and generation including Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Lorde, and Janet Jackson have brought their shows to town. The eight-story, bowl-shaped arena’s floor is 40 feet below street level. There are no bad seats in the house! Around 20,000 fans can fit into the stands and there is innovative “gondola” seating that is suspended above the stands. LCA also offers ADA accessible seating and parking as well as first aid stations. There are countless restaurants, bars, and VIP sections throughout the arena, making it a full-blown destination.

Historically, Detroit has been overlooked by the rest of America. People seem to think that its heyday was in the past and that the city is crime-ridden and somber. In recent years, Detroit has been anything but! Its interesting history combines with the influx of new residents and businesses to create an exciting downtown area.

One of the most special things about Detroit is its music scene. Growing up just fifteen miles from downtown, I got to experience all that the city has to offer. The music history, the bands, and the venues. My exposure to the rich music history of the city and love for live music inspired me to pursue a career in the music industry. I have been frequenting The Shelter since I was in High School and I was fortunate enough to work at Little Caesars Arena over the summer. While the venues I have detailed above are certainly not the only concert spaces the city has to offer, they are unique places to begin falling in love with the sounds of Detroit.

 

 

New Music, New Year

The new year has finally arrived after the craziness that was 2018. While there are many things to look forward to in the new year, I’m most excited about new music. Only a few days into the year and we already have releases like  Longshot from Catfish and the Bottlemen and Land Of The Free by The Killers. Since it is so early in the year, I’m sure that this must be a prediction for what’s to come.

Based on some theories, facts, and new singles there are quite a few artists who are releasing new music in 2019 that I am excited about. Maggie Rogers, Bring Me The Horizon, FIDLAR, and Lana Del Rey are just a few artists releasing albums this year. While some of these are just predictions, it will still be interesting to see what’s in store for listeners.

Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers is releasing Heard It In A Past Life on January 18th. She has been promoting the album by posting hand-written lyrics on her Instagram feed. The single Light On is an upbeat love song that resembles more a modern girl’s anthem. Roger’s pop instrumentals and folky vocal style work well together to create a playful yet nostalgic sound.

The 1975

One of the most acclaimed albums from 2018 was The 1975’s brilliant A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relations. In an interview with Annie Mac for BBC Radio 1 lead singer Matt Healy, revealed that the band would be releasing a two-part update to their catalog of music. Fans were delighted by this news. Healy had previously stated that The 1975 would release only 3 records. Look out for Notes On A Conditional Form in May 2019!

The 1975 Concert

One of my new year’s resolutions is to incorporate more media into my posts by starting a YouTube channel. There I’ll be doing new music reviews, covers, concert vlogs, and more. I also hope to write blog posts more frequently. Which artists are you most excited to hear new music from this year?

Seasaw, Canceled Plans, Young Ritual Local Show at Mac’s Bar

If you’re having summer concert withdrawals and are looking for the perfect fall show, look no further! As soon as I heard the news that Seasaw, Canceled Plans (solo set), and Young Ritual would hit the stage at Mac’s Bar in Lansing on October 3rd I’ve been buzzing with excitement! I spoke with Michaela Stock of Canceled Plans and Dylan Grantham of Young Ritual to get the scoop on the upcoming show.

Both Stock and Grantham are excited about the gig and are eager to share the stage with some new faces. “I’ve never shared the stage with seasaw or Young Ritual, but I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been gigging since April of 2017, and I’ve never gotten to share the stage with another girl who runs the show. I’m a big fan of seasaw and their work, so it’s an honor to have this first and this show alongside two talented and beautiful women.” Stock writes. It’s remarkable to see such genuine support for other female artists in a male-driven industry. One of the things I love most about supporting my local music scene is seeing the interactions and friendships forming between artists that share the stage whether it’s for a single gig or for a tour.

IMG_3108Not only are Stock and Grantham ready to play with some new faces, but they are also thrilled to get back to Mac’s Bar. For Grantham, this is his first time in performing in Michigan’s capital. “This will actually be my first show in Lansing, so I can’t wait for that part. I definitely have some tricks up my sleeve to make a good first impression.” I’m eager to see what kind of tricks he has to make this show a memorable one. Grantham has been working on finishing up his first EP, and released the first single “Prime” last month! He’ll definitely be playing some new music at the upcoming show along with old favorites.

Stock, on the other hand, is a Lansing native and she’s pumped to get back to her hometown and play at one of her favorite venues. “The last time I played at Mac’s was in September of 2017. It was my first full-band show, and I was opening for Michigander, a band I had followed as a fan since high school. That was for sure a night I’ll never forget. Every time I walk through the doors at Mac’s I’m hit with gratitude and nostalgia for the space. I have so much more to say, but I’m going to leave some stories for the show!” I’ve never seen

IMG_7791While remembering Mac’s Bar and what the venue means to her, Michaela lights up and goes into every detail of the venue and how much she loves it. “I spent the latter half of my teenage years studying the scribbled walls in Mac’s Bar at shows. It was my first “dream venue” to play a show in because I had some of my first experiences with live music in that space. I even met my best friend at Mac’s at a concert. We screamed all the words to the headlining band’s set, and it’s been history ever since. Mac’s Bar did, in fact, end up being the first place I’d ever played a billed gig with tickets, a sound-check, and other artists back in April of 2017. I remember wearing a black dress, carrying my guitar case and pushing open the big wooden door thinking, “What the HECK has my life come to?” (For the record, I’m still figuring that question out.) It was so special.”

Do not sleep on this concert! Each of the acts has a different energy to bring to the stage and it’s sure to be a good night. Get tickets to the show here!

-Swaggie Maggie

The Story of My Summer (part 1)

 

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Hey! Welcome back to Swaggie Maggie’s View from the Pit. After a quick hiatus, I am back with more stories to tell than ever. For those who know, I spent the last four months interning with Live Nation in their Detroit office as a production assistant. It was the best, craziest, most life-changing experience I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you!

If you don’t know, Live Nation Entertainment is the global leader for live entertainment. More often than not, if you’re going to buy tickets to a show it will be on Live Nation’s website. Back in 2010, when Live Nation only did event promotion, they merged with Ticketmaster to become this all-in-one company that resulted in a massive industry powerhouse that covers everything from ticketing to promotion, to production, to management. When I say that Live Nation (and the people who work for Live Nation) does it all, I mean it!

When I applied for my job with Live Nation’s Detroit office, I didn’t know what I would be getting myself into. I had heard about the opportunity from a few previous interns who were certain that I’d be a great candidate for the job. I applied, sent in my resume, and I was hired on the spot in my interview. I had to patiently wait from December until May to begin my adventure. This was my first shot at making it in the music industry. Everything I had was riding on this experience.

Over the past few years, I had changed my mind about going to graduate school immediately after undergrad. I had changed my major from arts and humanities to professional writing. For the past two years, I have been telling people that my dream was to write for Rolling Stone Magazine, and I was always met with excited responses and congratulations for something I hadn’t even achieved yet.

Of course, my excitement was also plagued with uncertainty. What if I wasn’t good at it? I’d be crushed. What if I didn’t like it? I’d have to start over from square one, again. I’d have to change my hopes and dreams, and figure out new ones. I don’t know if everyone else has this kind of anxiety at the start of something new, but I was just as terrified as I was excited.

Everything I thought I knew changed last summer. Isn’t that dramatic? I always thought people who said crap like that were full of it and trying too hard, but I get it now. Sometimes you just experience something so magnificent it changes you completely. Over the course of 3 months I grew in ways I didn’t know possible. I watched myself change from a girl with a dream to a young woman with drive and the tools to make those dreams happen. I grew professionally and realized that I didn’t have to have just one career goal. I grew personally and learned that I am still so much stronger than I think.

I can’t wait to share more of my experiences and stories with you so come back next week for Part 2 in my new series!

-Swaggie Maggie

Bucket List Concerts: Dr. Dog

A week ago I finally got to see Dr. Dog after three years of loving their music. Over the past few years that I’ve been a fan of their music, all of my attempts to see them failed. I was either out of the state while they were in my city or I had no way of getting myself from college to the venue. When I first started listening to Dr. Dog, I quickly found that I preferred their live album to their studio recorded work. There was just something about the way they sounded during their performance that made me feel like I was experiencing something special. When Dr. Dog announced the release of their latest album Critical Equation, along with an accompanying tour I bought my tickets right away. Their Detroit date miraculously fell on my first day of summer break and I knew that I would definitely be in town for the show.

IMG_1040

When my semester finally ended, the only thing on my mind was seeing Dr. Dog. I had been listening to all of their music in preparation and I was getting ready for a great concert. I didn’t want to get my hopes too high, but I definitely was excited. When I got to the venue I weaved my way through the crowd toward the stage and found a spot that was close to the action. One thing I noticed is that I was definitely one of the youngest people there. I’d say that most of the fans were between 25 and 35 years old and they were all having a great time. As I waited for Dr. Dog to take the stage, I wondered which songs they would perform. They have a huge catalog of music and it would take them all night to play every single fan favorite, but I knew that they would for sure play their most popular songs as well as songs from Critical Equation.

IMG_1039As far as the performance goes, it’s undeniable that Dr. Dog is incredibly talented. They knew exactly when to bring the energetic fire to songs, but they also knew when to pull back and take a more emotional route. The band and the fans worked together to create a dreamy concert experience. I danced, sang, and cried along to their songs, and felt the music in my bones. That doesn’t happen at every show, so when it does I get excited. Dr. Dog was so comfortable up on stage, and it was refreshing to see a band that commanded the energy of the room through music so effectively.

 

Dr. Dog’s song “Shadow People” is one of my favorite songs of all time, so when the opening line rang through the venue I was content. Honestly, I think that the band could have performed that song on a loop for an hour and I would have been completely happy about it. Although, I was happy about the variety of songs they chose to add to the setlist. They played all of my favorites and helped me appreciate their newer songs as well. Like I said, they do their best work live.

-Swaggie Maggie

Redefining Success — COVERing April/May 2018 Print (co-written with Michala White)

“A person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.” That is the dictionary’s definition of success. In reality, the idea of success changes over time and means something different to everyone. We know that sometimes it feels as if there are only a handful of options after you graduate. In reality, you can do whatever you want as long as it makes you happy! Whether it’s grad school, accepting a job offer, or taking some time off, there are plenty of ways to lead a fulfilling life and reach your personal version of success.

Not everyone idealizes the American dream anymore. The perfect vision of success used to be a house fit for a married couple and their two children, enclosed in a white picket fence. But now, success can simply mean achieving your definition of true happiness. Sometimes we want to reach certain goals and follow certain paths to please others. But what really matters is making sure you are happy with what you are doing, because you are living your life for you. That is what success is today.

The slogan “Spartans Will” is a phrase that each student has carried close to their hearts after receiving their acceptance letters. We see it plastered around campus, in ads and some of us even analyze the campaign in classes. To many, “Spartans Will” encourages a mentality of tackling difficult problems head-on, overcoming challenges and changing the world. It means standing up for what you believe in, speaking out and making a difference. When you look at what “Spartans Will” means to students, it’s obvious that there is a direct link to success. This slogan empowers and encourages students to define success in their own, unique versions. At any stage of a college education, it’s scary to stop and think, “well what’s next?” It seems as though there are endless options and opportunities.

If you didn’t want to jump right into your career after graduation, an option that you might consider is taking a gap year. But we already know why you might not consider doing that. You could be risking financial instability; your family will question every move you make and you could feel weird about taking different paths than your friends or peers. There isn’t one particular reason why people take a gap year, but it certainly allows them to experience life in new ways outside of school and work. While taking time off, you could travel the world, learn new skills, focus on your mental health, join the peace corps or do something abroad to learn about other cultures. Your gap year might not be a cookie cutter experience like you’d expect it to be. But who knows, it could be everything you didn’t know you needed.

To get the inside scoop on this kind of path after graduation, here are some insights from Meghan Green — an MSU alumna who has recently been traveling the world and has taught in Thailand.

“I think I realized while sitting in one of my final lectures that if I wanted to do something like this it would be now or never,” said Green. “I know the world is huge and there’s so much we can learn from one another and from our own experiences in a different culture.”

Green taught English in Thailand and hasn’t second-guessed her decision yet. She kept a blog during her time teaching as a way to reflect on her experiences.

Green loved the education she gained at MSU, and she can’t wait to eventually start her career. But for now, she wishes to travel throughout more of Southeast Asia before heading home.

“There are so many things I have learned in Thailand that I will be able to come home with. I don’t even know where to begin. Learning to navigate and adapt to a foreign culture, problem-solving foreign concepts like transportation, learning to communicate in another language, learning to be flexible and learning life lessons from people who grew up with a totally different perspective,” said Green.

Experiencing a different culture has taught Green that once she begins the start of her career, she at least wants to dedicate a couple weeks per year for traveling. You could say her definition of success is to become more of a global citizen and to become more culturally aware.

If taking a whole year off after graduation isn’t your speed, but you still want to travel and explore the world, you can definitely find a way to balance your career and your adventures! Nicole Jakubik graduated from MSUin spring 2016 with a degree in media and information technology, and a concentration in television, film and radio. She now works in the Metro Detroit area for an independent television and film studio as an associate producer. Her plans and goals changed a lot over the course of her senior year.

“During my first semester I was super confident that I was going to move to New York City and work at a major television network,” said Green. “Second semester came around and it became very clear that my plan was not going to happen anytime soon. The thirty jobs I applied to quickly turned into over a hundred, and I still had no job offers. I was totally freaking out. It’s so easy to get this idea in your head of what your plan in life should be, and think that somehow that plan is going to fall into place.”

After weighing her options and working hard to figure out a backup plan, one of her mother’s coworkers was able to put her in contact with someone starting a film company and she landed the job she has now.

While Jakubik thinks taking a gap year sounds like an amazing opportunity, she didn’t personally feel that she could take an entire year off to travel. “I knew I needed to start my career as soon as I could. As much as I love traveling, I also love working.” She decided to take control of her days off, and make sure she is able to fulfill her travel goals while also pursuing her career goals.

“It’s easy to get trapped into the career mindset that Americans have that you have to work all of the time, and if you take vacation or personal days, it means you’re lazy,” said Jakubik. “Don’t listen to that. Traveling can absolutely fit into your career. Use weekends. Where can you go from Friday to Sunday? If it’s a short plane ride or trip in the car, I’ll leave after work on Friday and get back as late as possible Sunday. Use long weekends for trips where you want extra time, or use personal days to create a long weekend! If I want to go somewhere international, that’s when I’ll use vacation time.”

Once you hit college, you have been in school for about 16 years non-stop — if you go straight from high school to college. That is a long time without getting a break. It is drilled into our heads that we can only reach success from going to school, but that’s not always the case. You can learn something new from every experience you have, and what better way to learn than to have rich, diverse experiences?

You can learn about different walks of life just by traveling the world, observing and talking to others. It is okay to jump right into your career after graduation, and it is okay to take some time to tend to yourself if need be. Your definition of what success is and how you reach it is truly up to you.

Springtime in Lansing — FEATURing April/May 2018 Print

Spring is a period of rebirth and growth, and there are plenty of activities and events that reappear in our community during the warmer months. Once the season of skiing, sledding and skating comes to an end, festivals, ball games and concerts are welcomed with open arms. No matter where you are in Michigan, the Mitten State has a lot to offer after the snow starts to melt.

April showers lead to beautiful views on MSU’s campus. Many students lay out picnic blankets and study, while others hang hammocks and lounge; pickup games of basketball, soccer and volleyball can be found in each neighborhood, along with friendly faces who encourage others to join the fun. Junior Drew Bartlett is excited to enjoy the MSU Food Truck once the nice weather rolls in! “When I have a long day of class in the spring, I love to get my lunch from the food truck and eat it outside. The food is fresh and delicious, and it’s a perfect break from school work,” Bartlett said. Students who live on campus will often seek out the Food Truck because the meals are a pleasant change from the dining halls.

Another fun activity students enjoy in the spring is walking. Junior Sydnee Levine is a fan of taking walks along the Red Cedar and River Trail at night. “A big group of my friends and I always like to take walks at night in the spring. It’s warm enough where you’d only need a light jacket, and the cool air is refreshing, and it’s cool to experience campus in a way you wouldn’t normally see it,” Levine said.

The Greater Lansing area hosts a myriad of events in the spring that draw in audiences of all ages. The Capital City Film Festival from April 11-15 is a local favorite, as well as for those who travel from out of town. The website states that the festival is a “multimedia showcase of independent films and live touring bands with engaging audiences in Michigan’s capital city.” Not only does the festival celebrate artists from our community, but it lets creators from around the world promote a diverse, cultural atmosphere. With individual events that range from free of charge to $15, this is a great, inexpensive way to get out the residence hall and into the community.

Lansing’s Beerfest at the Ballpark on April 28, is another springtime tradition – for ages 21 and up, of course. The festival is held in the concourse and front lawn of the Cooley Law School Stadium and is a dream for every beer lover! With over 300 craft beers, ciders, meads, spirits and wines from over 70 Michigan breweries, there’s something for everyone. The event’s location is a fitting backdrop as baseball is a springtime favorite for Lansing residents.

If you love music, then make sure to mark Lansing’s StoopFest on your calendar. For its third year in production, the festival will be bigger and better than ever. When StoopFest was established, the goal was to create an inclusive environment for Lansing’s music and art lovers, showcasing talented individuals within the community while promoting Lansing’s eastside. The community embraced the festival, holding nearly 100 performances in six different houses with music ranging from rock and folk to hip-hop. This year, the goal remains the same, but the plan is much larger. By expanding capacity, including more well-known artists and occupying more spaces within the community, the event is setting itself up to become a staple of Lansing for years to come.

Spring is a perfect time to enjoy all that our lovely state has to offer, and the Greater Lansing area makes it easy to do so. With events beginning in early April, the season is a wonderful time to explore the community. When the sun begins to shine and the snow melts, the opportunities to get outside and have some fun are endless.