I Traveled Out of My Comfort Zone, and it Changed My Worldview

Author: Nicole Chininis, Real Life Stories

Traveling truly does provide you with just about everything you need.

It allows you to expand your point of view, and expand your knowledge. Think of it as being completely nearsighted, and then putting on glasses for the first time in your life. You now can see not only what is in front of you, but the the things beyond what your hands can reach. Things are clearer, and you have a better understanding of what’s around you.

My time spent traveling abroad shaped who I am today because of the people I met, the food I ate, and the life that I lived. But, I felt like for a long time that I never really expanded outside of my true comfort zone. This is a big confession for a Study Abroad Advisor, but let me explain.

I’ve spent my fair share of time across Europe and some of Latin America, visiting friends who are living abroad, or living abroad myself. In Spain, I immediately felt at home, because I spoke the language, and the culture felt familiar, thanks to my Greek heritage. Of course, the cultures are different, but there was something about being in loud, friendly groups of people that made me feel at home.

Even though I felt at home in Spain, I still experienced culture shock, which mostly came from speaking Spanish as a second language. For instance, it was difficult to not be able to find the right words I wanted to use, or not fully being able to understand things my friends said. But after some time, I was able to blend in and adapt to Spanish culture and language like it was my own. 

After my time in Spain, I was then fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in South Africa, immersing myself in local culture, as I did in Spain. It was an experience unlike any other I have ever had. It was one of the first times that I didn’t know what to expect. I knew about some the history of Apartheid, a system of government that required segregation by race, but I had no idea of the tremendous impact it still has on the day to day lives of the people who live there.

I also didn’t know what to expect in terms of food while traveling, as South African cuisine is not something that is as internationally common as other cuisines, and I really had no idea of what to expect in the townships. I was constantly out of my comfort zone, but at the same time, I felt like I was taking in so much.

Over the course of the trip, I spoke with everyone I could, and I really reflected on my preconceived notions, stereotypes, and misconceptions that I had about South Africa prior to my trip. Without any expectations for the country, I was able to truly see things with clarity and open eyes.  

My trip to South Africa provided my ability to take a step back in my own life, and reflect on experiences here within the United States. South Africa ended Apartheid a little over 20 years ago. But, I felt like so many of the conversations we were having about racism, segregation, and where they were as a country were so similar to the conversations we are having here. It challenged my perceptions of where we are, and how far we have to go, and it made me truly admire the South African people. As much as they have to go, South Africa is incredibly resilient, strong, and mindful of the work that is ahead. It was inspiring and eye-opening.

I wouldn’t have had this moving experience if I stayed in my comfort zone. It made me more aware of my experiences, no matter where I travel to, because it has given me a different point of view. I learned that I need to take myself out of what I think I know, focus on what I don’t know, and challenge myself to find out. I challenge you to do the same.

music festivals

The Summer of Music Festivals in 2017

Author: Nicole Chininis, Current Events/Politics

The summer of 2017 has been an incredible time for music festivals. In a time where much of the nation is divided, it seemed as though music was what brought many together.

I was able to attend three separate festivals: Boston Calling, Newport Folk Festival, and Lollapalooza. The music was incredible and vibrant, and the vibes were all varied — but all exciting and alive. All three were different in their own like, but all strived to unify the surrounding community through music. Ranging from Mumford and Sons to Big Sean, The Head and the Heart to Chance the Rapper, each festival brought a variety of music, and exposed their attendees to new sounds.

Boston Calling

Obviously in Boston, this festival had upgraded to a bigger and better location than prior years, allowing concert-goers to easily go back and forth between stages. Although the location had improved, there were many issues with food and drink vendors, and the incredibly long lines in order to purchase anything. Boston Calling tried to rectify the situation by changing processes on the second day, but it definitely left its mark amongst concert goers. Nonetheless, even though the food trucks weren’t serving, the music did. The headliners were as diverse as they come: Chance the Rapper, Mumford and Sons, and Tool. This lineup most definitely pleased many, as Boston is known for its up and coming music scene, featuring all genres. There were other great bands including Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Majid Jordan, Brandi Carlile — who had shown her vocal strength through her set — and Mumford and Sons, who played a very diverse collection from their four albums.

Newport Folk Festival
This has become more than just a festival, but a tradition for so many music fans, many millennials included. Located in Newport, Rhode Island at Fort Adams State Park, Newport Folk Festival is rich with history (it’s where Bob Dylan got his start!), and the festival does an incredible job of honoring those who have played every year. Many ask what type of bands play in Newport, and although the focus is mostly on folk music, Newport Folk Festival always pushes the boundaries on what folk actually is. What Newport does best is getting people before they explode. Hozier is one example, as they had him as a performer in 2014, right before Take Me to Church was on your radio 24 hours a day. More traditionally considered folk bands performing included Mandolin Orange, The Head and the Heart, and newcomers Joseph. Stretching the boundaries of folk, there were more soulful, rock singers like L.A. Salami, the Seratones, and Regina Spektor.

This festival arguably is the one that stole the show. It’s one of the most diverse in music genres, and that may even be an understatement. A massive event with a tremendous amount of talent, Lolla (as it’s known for short) brought creatures from all walks of the earth to celebrate EDM, rock, hip-hop, and soul. The line-up included known artists such as DJ Snake, Big Sean, Blink-182, Lorde, and Alt-J, as well as not so known artists like Noname, Maggie Rogers, Leon, Jacob Banks, Sampha and Bibi Bourlley. However, the one who stole the show was Chance the Rapper. Making his third appearance at Lolla, Chance made his homecoming worth it to every person who was there. Chance’s show was said to be the biggest crowd ever at Lollapalooza. Although the crowd was big, they were happy and thrilled to hear songs like Sunday Candy, Juke Jams, and the incredible Blessings. Chance did not disappoint by bringing copious amounts of energy, fly dance moves, and amazing fireworks.


All and all, these three festivals were different in their own like, but all strived to unify the surrounding community through music. It’s important for millennials to realize that we’re not so different, and these festivals are a good reminder of that. It’s an opportunity to come together to enjoy and celebrate music, and enjoy the community around us.


A Real-Life Look at the Boston Free Speech Counter Protest

Author: Nicole Chininis, Current Events/Politics

On August 19th, 2017, I gathered with about 40,000 other people on the Boston Common to fight against hate.

The events in Charlottesville bothered me, and many others, to my core. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to sit back and let whatever “free speech” rally happen in my city. I had to go and stand up for what I knew to be right, and stand beside the marginalized communities who are directly targeted by these hateful organizations.

I don’t think anyone knew what to expect from this protest. On Facebook, there were two main event pages for counter protest, estimating about 6,000 people total. When we all got there, we gathered with a large group of people near the gazebo in the Commons, which is where the Free Speech rally was supposed to take place. There was a large divide between both groups, police on bikes, and more police surrounding the Gazebo. Some were Trump supporters, and were either wearing a hat or carrying banners, that would purposefully walk through the crowds to get people riled up. It worked. People would respond by chanting “SHAME” or “Black Lives Matter.”

Police escorted those gathering to rally around “free speech” through the crowd, and on the opposite side of the fence, which was dividing the Free Speech Rally and the counter protesters. Everyone around us kept on wondering when the “real rally,” filled with the possibility of “free speech” statements about white supremacy, was going to start, due to the small amount of people who were there, but it never took place due to small attendance.

But boy, did the city of Boston show up. I was incredibly motivated and inspired, as I gathered with 40,000 other people who were standing against hate. I shouldn’t have expected anything less. After attending the Women’s March in Boston earlier in the year, I knew that my city was capable of coming out to do what’s right. And it gave me hope for the entire country.

One positive was that the overall mood amongst the counter protesters was peaceful and united. Many of us were talking with each other about what this week’s past events meant for us and for the country. One thing was common: the majority of us were (and still are) filled with genuine concern about where this leaves us as a country.

If anything, I think that the number of people who showed up to peacefully take a stand against hate shows what our country can be. We have the capabilities of doing what’s right and moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. However, if we continue to stand up like Boston did, I have no doubt that we can take leaps and bounds to creating a stronger and more peaceful nation.


Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.


“Why is dating even considered a game? It’s not about winners and losers…”

Author: Nicole Chininis, The Dating Game

World: I’m about to tell you something that you may not like, but I can guarantee about 99% of you will agree with: The games we play while we’re dating are dumb.

You know exactly what type of games I’m talking about. The “I’m not texting them again until they text me,” or the “I had an amazing date but I’m not going to contact them for two days because I don’t want to seem too eager,” or last, but not least, the “Text them to say I don’t think this is working out? No thanks, I’ll just ghost them.”

You all are probably saying to yourself, “You’re right. Games are dumb. I hate playing them and they don’t get me anywhere.” It’s true, but yet, next time you go on a date, you find yourself second-guessing texting your date that you had fun… because you don’t want to seem weird. And yes, I know this because I was that person. I see my friends doing this. We all play into our insecurities, and these games are the exact way that we protect ourselves from dealing with the doubt that comes along with dating. But, I’m here to call you out on it, and tell you that games are dumb.

Straightforwardness is attractive
Straightforwardness is one of the most attractive qualities a person can have. It’s so refreshing when you don’t have to second-guess what someone is thinking. I want someone who also doesn’t want to play games. If you had fun on a date, and want to see me again, tell me. If you like me, make it known. I understand that sometimes people aren’t sure what they want in a relationship, but you know what? Tell me that. Why? Because at least I can navigate how I feel about that situation, and determine what’s best for me. So, tell the truth, and be straightforward about your intentions.

People who are scared off because you seem too eager are not worthy of you
Look, we’ve all been there. You start to talk to someone and love the back and forth banter for days, but then say to yourself, “I’m not going to text first, it’s their turn.” Wait, what?! Their turn? Why? Generally, it’s because you don’t want to seem too eager and scare them off. Well, this is dumb. It’s dumb because you deserve better than a person who is scared off by text messages, or a phone call, to ask you out again. What’s going to happen when real, actual conflict happens? Ugh, I can’t even imagine. Nonetheless, you deserve someone who actually enjoys talking with you, and appreciates you and your “Morning, how’s your day starting off?” texts. You simply deserve the best.

Games are a waste of everyone’s time
Dating is hard enough as it is, and we don’t need to make things more complicated. By playing games, we’re just simply wasting time, when we could be with a person who likes the fact that you’re not toying with their heart. Doesn’t that sound nice? Cut the crap by texting them when you feel like it, or asking them on a date again because you want to see them. Ultimately, cutting to the chase makes it easier to make decisions on how you feel about the other person, instead of getting your hopes up about something that is dragged out, and isn’t really there. Make it known: you’re not trying to waste your time or their time.

You’re being unfair to yourself and the other person
If you play the dating games like many do, you’re doing yourself and the other person a disservice. Give yourself a chance to do things right, and be honest with yourself and the other person. If you don’t feel like you’re making a connection with that person, please don’t ghost them. Simply tell them that you don’t think it’s working out, but you wish them the best. Wouldn’t you want to be treated the same way?

Taking the Online Dating Plunge is Scary

Author: Nicole Chininis, The Dating Game

If you’re anything like me, your experience with dating (or lack thereof) has not been the easiest thing in the world. So much so, that people around me started to get nervous.

“Are you trying hard enough?”

“You know, all it takes is to say yes to a date.”

“Are you meeting people?”

And the inevitable…


I’ve been asked that question more times than I can count. Honestly, I know people never meant it in a negative way, but like, duh, of course I have considered online dating and apps. Who on God’s green earth hasn’t either heard of online dating or tried it? I understand people’s concern, but there were a couple reasons why I was hesitant about it until recently. 

I wasn’t ready
Up until about a year ago, I wasn’t ready to put myself out there like that. I have been burned by the dating world in dramatic and tremendously hurtful ways. That proverbial rug had been ripped from underneath me too many times right when I had made my heart ready and open to someone. The thought of freely putting my heart on the market to potentially get ripped apart did not seem appealing. I was scared and I wasn’t ready.

I knew of no success
Yes, my friends were telling me all of these stories of people they knew who had met people online, but I had not personally known anyone to have a successful relationship due to online dating and apps. I didn’t trust the process. I had no confirmation. And I had nothing positive to entice me to want to join the online dating world.  

I wanted a real life meet
I think the idea of being able to potentially just meet someone by chance in real life made it seem less scary, and I would be able to read them a little bit more. Obviously, that was not necessarily the case because I had never successfully done that, as evidenced by my experiences. I never judged anyone for doing online dating or for meeting someone that way. I never really understood why people lied if they met their partner online and said that they met in the grocery store (seriously, what is that?) However, I couldn’t let go of this idea of the real life “meet cute.” I just wasn’t ready to give that up. 

I’m stubborn
If people tell me to do something, I most likely won’t want to do it. Even if they mean well, I really just have to come into things on my own most of the time. I truly value people’s opinions and I like to talk things through if I’m having an issue, but the more that people asked me if I wanted to do online, the more I did not want to do it. What did they know anyway? I was tired of talking about it and tired of people pushing me to do something I wasn’t interested in. Everyone just didn’t understand.

When I joined, I kept it from everyone
I got to a point when I decided to just dip my toes in, see what was out there. It felt great to get there on my own. I didn’t tell anyone though, because I thought that if people knew I would get even more pressure from people to tell them what was going on, or who knows. By keeping it to myself, I wasn’t setting any expectations for myself or for others, and I could stop at any point if I was uncomfortable. I did something very non-committal and downloaded an app instead of diving right into, and it was a great decision.

And of course, I learned from all of this
I learned a lot about myself. Primarily, I learned what it meant to do something for myself. I generally am open and truly willing to go out of my way to do things for other people. You need help moving? I’m your girl. You need to talk about something? I’m here for you. You need someone to pick you up? I’m so happy to do so. I love helping and caring for others, but with something like this I needed to do it on my own time. I realized, even though the pain of my experiences hasn’t gone away, what it felt like to have my heart open for experiences.


Baby steps can feel like climbing a mountain. Some people believe that online dating may not be a big deal because everyone is doing it, for others that’s not the case. While you may value encouragement, until you feel ready to take the plunge — keep on climbing that mountain on your own time.