See you there! 🙂
Black is my favorite color. What’s not to love? It looks good on everyone, it’s hard to stain (that gets a huge “amen!” from this clumsy girl), and it works in almost every situation (work, dates, going out, etc…). But even this black-obsessed gal knows that the summer calls for a little pop of color to spice up the “all-black-everything” look.
Enter, this hot pink bag from Aoki Boutique. Usually, I stick with neutrals when it comes to bags, but this vibrant color caught my eye right away, and I knew it would be perfect for adding some excitement to an outfit.
Speaking of excitement…let’s talk about this 9-5 life. I’ve only been living it for a couple of weeks, but already am feeling how draining and monotonous it could become (which I obviously refuse to let happen). To keep things interesting and fun, I look for ways to add excitement to my week, whether it be an after-work happy hour with my boyfriend, an episode (or four) of Girls (my new favorite show…soooo obsessed!), or cooking an awesome healthy dinner.
I’ve always been a girl-power kinda gal, but lately, I have been especially inspired by my fellow sistas. This summer has brought two new (amazing!) things to my life: interning at Comcast and living in Philadelphia. So far, as I go through life this summer, I continue to be amazed and inspired by the incredible women surrounding me.
First, the Comcast Center is 56 floors of kick-butt women. These women are intelligent, innovative, and creative. I now have hundreds of role models around me every single day–talk about motivation!
Outside of the Comcast Center, Philly is full of other super women, like Alina from Aoki Boutique! Alina combines her passion for fashion and her business-savvy mind to run her adorable boutique on 22nd street. If you live in Philly, you have to check this place out! If not, don’t worry…you can always shop here!
This shirt, from Aoki, is the perfect pair to the inspiration and female empowerment that I just can’t get enough of this summer! It’s intricate and beautiful, with just the right amount of glitz that leaves me ready to take on, well…the world 😉
Here I am—back to America and the basics of life here. No more gallivanting off to another country for the weekend or casually passing the Colosseum on a run. I obviously miss Rome and everything I did during my semester abroad, but I am also a big fan of routines, so I am enjoying getting back into one here. I refuse to believe that the “basics” of everyday life are boring—every day is a new opportunity for joy, happiness, love, and adventure.
Just like the basics of life are exciting, so are the basics of style. If you look in my closet, you will notice it is overwhelmingly black and white, the two most basic colors. But black and white are the opposite of boring—they are exciting and provide opportunity to create so many different looks.
So with my black and white closest and my post-study abroad lifestyle, I am looking forward to the adventure, thrills, and entertainment that this life has to bring me. Who’s with me?
So far, this blog has focused primarily on fashion, health and fitness, and as of late, travel, as I spent the past semester in Rome and traveling throughout Europe. Now that I am back home, I have decided that I really want to incorporate a huge passion of mine into this blog: music.
I have been playing guitar and writing music since I was 16 years old. I released an album on iTunes (Take Me or Leave Me) in April 2012, and released a single (Deserve) in October 2014 (Deserve can also be heard on Spotify!). Unfortunately, since being in college, music is something that I have not been spending as much time on as I want to, especially while in Italy sans guitar 😦
One of the first things I did when I got home was pick up my old friend and start playing again. I recorded this cover of I’m Not the Only One by Sam Smith. It’s not perfect, but it makes me proud and happy. This cover is my first step toward getting back into one of my biggest passions in life, after taking a bit of a vacation.
Thanks for listening!
I can’t believe I am back in the United States! I already miss Rome so much, but I am happy to be home. It’s crazy how many little things I appreciate now that I am home–unlimited hot water, oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter, and a clothing dryer. With my semester abroad (and my heavy suitcases) fresh in my mind, I thought I would share some packing tips I learned that I hope will be helpful to future study abroad students (you lucky ducks 😉 ).
image via Brit+Co
WHAT TO PACK
Passport Copies. It is super important to have your passport on you at all times when you are walking around a foreign city, but if you carry your actual passport, you run the risk of it getting taken from you if you were to be the unfortunate victim of pickpocketing. Easy solution: pack a few extra copies of your passport. The best part? These will take up about .01% of your suitcase.
Peanut butter and Ziplock bags. Ok so maybe you don’t consider these things essential, but some do. Make sure you do some research to find out what things are not sold in the country you are traveling to. For example, peanut butter is rarely sold in Rome and when it is, it’s the kind with a ton of added sugar (AKA not the kind I eat). Make sure you make some room in your suitcase for the essential items that your study abroad country does not sell.
Clothing for every place you plan to travel to. Planning a Spring Break trip to Barcelona? Heading up north for the weekend? Keep these climates in mind as you pack for your journey. Of course, you might want to go shopping while you are abroad, but you don’t want to have to rely on buying a whole new wardrobe for each of your travels.
Raincoat. I always wondered how Romans lived off of a diet of pasta, pizza, cheese, and gelato and still managed to stay slim. Now, I know the secret…lots and lots of walking. The amount of walking I did every day in Rome was amazing…rain or shine. A raincoat was a total lifesaver on those rainy days.
Clothing that makes you feel good 😉 I have always heard that Europeans go for the cool and casual vibe when dressing to go out, so when packing for this trip, I didn’t make “going out clothes” a priority. Turns out, I should have considered that aspect of my wardrobe a little bit more. Yes, it’s important to embrace the culture around you, but it’s also important to feel good when you go out at night (night life is a big part of the culture in Europe). I’m not advising you to pack your 6-inch stilettos (you will break an ankle on the cobblestones!!), but packing a few “going out” pieces that make you feel confident is definitely a good call.
WHAT NOT TO PACK
Hairdryers, straighteners, and curling irons. The wattage used in Rome is much lower than in the U.S., so even if you bring converters and adapters, you will still run the risk of using too much energy. Energy in Rome is limited and is regulated by the government. If you use too much power at once, you will experience a black out (not fun, trust me). It’s much easier to keep your hairdryers and straighteners at home and just buy them when you arrive at your destination!
Heels. Cobblestones are a real danger and make walking in heels impossible. Instead, opt for heeled booties for a boost of height that doesn’t end in a broken ankle.
Back of the Closest Clothes. You know those clothes that you never choose when you’re getting ready in the morning, but you still keep them around because they were expensive, you got them as a gift, or you just really wish you could pull them off? These are the things you do not want taking up precious room in your suitcase. If it’s not good enough to wear around your hometown or college campus, I highly doubt you will want to wear it around a foreign country. Pack only the pieces of clothing that you like and you feel good in!
I hope these tips are helpful! Packing for a study abroad program is extremely overwhelming, so make sure you take some deep breaths, make some lists, and keep things in perspective. The experience you are about to embark on is so much more important than the clothing you will be wearing on it.
Do you have any packing tips to add?
Well this is it…my last week in Rome. Right now, my emotions are incredibly mixed. On one hand, I am so excited to go home—to be back in America with my family, my boyfriend, and my friends, to be able to send texts and use Snapchat on my iPhone even if I don’t have Wifi, to be able to read labels in the grocery store and communicate easily with the people around me. But on the other hand, I am so sad for this adventure to end. My semester abroad has been the best experience of my life. I learned things about this world and about myself that I really don’t think I could have learned anywhere else. I traveled to places I had only dreamed of visiting and saw so many stunning creations of this world and of the people on it. I did things I never imagined I was capable of—good and bad—and learned from every one of them. I met some of the greatest, most fun people I have ever known and made friendships that I know will continue outside of this continent. I also got to known and came to love an incredible city: Rome. Rome drives me nuts…the traffic is absolutely insane, the metro is crowded and annoying, the people selling selfie sticks are out of control, and the streets are dirty—but, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Rome has become my home over this semester and I love everything about it, the good, the bad, and the crazy. Below is a list of the things I will miss most about living in Rome.
1. 1 Euro bottles of wine
No lie, this bottle of wine costs 1.09 at CarreFour and puts Franzia to shame (#neveragain). I’m not sure how I will afford my wine obsession when I come back to America and have to pay $12 for a cheap bottle of vino. I would be lying if I said I never considered filling an entire suitcase with bottles of red to bring back home 😉
2. Produce Markets
I love fruits and vegetables more than I love life itself (ok, a bit of stretch…but not that far from the truth). My friends tell me if I were a superhero, I would be Produce Girl. The two produce markets that are on either side of my apartment are absolutely sensational; I can get an entire bag of fresh produce for around 3 euro. It will feel like a sin (and a fatal blow to my wallet) to buy produce from a grocery store again. Plus, I will miss the (limited) Italian conversations I had with the market’s workers as I got to know them during my daily visits.
3. The Scenery
Sometimes, I had to stop and remind myself what I was taking for granted around me in this city. During this semester, I went on runs past the Colosseum, my morning commute to work everyday gave me a stunning view of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the sunlight, and my time waiting for the night bus to take my friends and I home from a night out was spent outside the Vittoriano. These things became so normal to me—just another part of my daily life—but unfortunately, they won’t follow me back to daily life in the United States.
4. Weekend travels
I traveled almost every weekend this semester to cities like Florence, Milan, London, Paris, Prague, Budapest, and Barcelona. Back home, I do not have the privilege of hopping onto a cheap RyanAir flight to another city after class on Friday and coming back in time for my internship on Monday morning. I have come to love traveling, and not being able to do it as frequently will be something I greatly miss (although, I can’t say I will miss flying RyanAir—am I right?).
5. THE FOOD
I have eaten some of the best food in this city—pizza, cacio e pepe, buffalo mozzarella, bruschetta, gelato, and tiramisu. My friends make fun of me because after every meal I announce: “Oh my god, that was the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life.” This statement (although dramatic) is true! Every meal I eat tastes even better than the last. Roman food gets 5 stars from me.
6. My Italian Family
This semester, the students on my program had the opportunity to tutor a child in English and visit the house of a Roman family every week. I was placed with the kindest, most welcoming, and loving family. Going to their home every Thursday to play games with, read to, talk with, and eat dinner with them has been a huge highlight of this experience. This Thursday will be my last visit and saying goodbye will be hard. I really don’t think this goodbye is a permanent one; I will come back to Rome and seeing this incredible family will be a priority during this future visit.
7. My internship at the Vatican
Yes, my internship had me waking up at 6:45am everyday (to get in an early morning workout beforehand), but it was an incredible experience. During my typical work week, I reached thousands of people in five different languages via my daily gospel posts and thousands more through photos on Instagram, spent every Wednesday morning with Pope Francis and thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, and enjoyed the incredible view of Saint Peter’s Basilica every time I stepped out of the office. In addition, I was one of only about 20 press people permitted on the Palentine Hill during Way of the Cross, only feet away from Pope Francis and with the opportunity to take amazing photos of the hundreds of thousands of people gathered in front of the hill, the glowing cross, and of Pope Francis himself. I am so grateful for this opportunity and will never forget it.
8. My friends
It’s amazing how close you can get with people when you are the only American college students living in a region. The program I studied with is not typical of study abroad programs; we all lived in apartment buildings with local Romans instead of in university housing with hundreds of other study abroad students from America. This setting helped us all to grow close and to build incredible friendships. I have the most incredible memories with my friends on this program and have had some of the most fun and exciting experiences of my life with them. Being in Rome and traveling in Europe is amazing, but without people just as special by my side, my experience this semester would not have been half as fantastic.
I could continue, but I think it is best to get off the computer and get out there to experience my last few days of the things on this list and everything else Rome has to offer. Now, to sign off for the last time from Rome…
Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),
My trip to the Amalfi Coast was different than any of my weekend adventures outside of Rome. During this semester, my weekends were full of hours upon hours in airports, days where my only sleep occurred on modes of transportation or on chairs in airports, and countless miles on foot as I attempted to see and do as much as possible during my limited time in each city. Don’t get me wrong…those weekends were absolutely incredible—some of the best of my life—but for my final trip of the semester, I wanted something a bit more relaxing. With breathtaking views, gorgeous beaches, and natural wonders, the Amalfi Coast was just what I had been dreaming of…and more!
Day 1 of the weekend was spent in Positano. This gorgeous town on the coast is known for a hill of adorable houses and its black sand beaches. With ice cold Peroni’s and sunscreen in hand, my friends and I set out to the beach where we soaked up the sun, laughed, played games, and drank tropical drinks all day long. This was the relaxation all of those hours spent on my feet and in airports were building up to, and it felt amazing. That night, we went into the center of Sorrento. We had dinner at Pizzeria Aurora, where I had the best pizza I have had so far in Italy. Then, we went to an outdoor beer garden, where we danced the night away. This day was the definition of my perfect day. Sun, friends, food, and dancing…what more could a girl ask for?
On Day 2, we took a ferry into Capri and then hopped onto smaller boats for a tour of the island. First stop: The Blue Grotto, one of the natural wonders of Europe. To enter the illuminated cave, we had to get into small rowboats and lay down, while a sailor on the boat pulled us into the grotto with a string. I was a bit scared of not making it through the cave’s tiny hole, but once inside the grotto, my only emotion was amazement at the naturally illuminated blue water surrounding me. Back inside the boat, we continued to tour the island, taking in the world’s beauty at every turn.
After the boat tour, we explored the island on foot—but not for long. After enjoying an amazing shrimp pasta dish in creamy lemon sauce at Le Arcate, we headed to the chairlift that brought us up to the very top of the mountain, giving the most incredible views I have ever seen. Breathtaking is the only world suitable for an experience like this one.
On the last day of the long weekend, we visited Pompeii. We didn’t have any type of guided or audio tour, so it was difficult to know exactly what we were looking at. To anyone visiting Pompeii, I recommend participating in some type of tour so that you can best understand what is around you. Regardless, it was very neat to look at the ruins and think about the history of the famous city.
I was extra sad for this weekend to come to an end, because as Sunday came to a close, so did my long list of weekend trips. I couldn’t have chosen a better trip to finish off the semester with. Sunshine, great friends, countless laughs, and stunning nature made a weekend I will never forget.
Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),
This trip has been in the books for a while. Ever since I received my internship at the Vatican and was accepted at the Arcadia in Rome study abroad program, Eric and I have been planning our trip to Barcelona. Eric lived in Barcelona for several years when he was young and still has family living in the city, so I was so excited to finally be able to see and experience a part of his life that I never had the chance to before. Plus, I was pretty pumped to have my own personal tour guide who speaks Spanish and is already familiar with the city (I’m a lucky gal, what can I say? 😉 )
We stayed in an Airbnb near the apartment Eric grew up in. We had to climb what felt like a thousand stairs to reach the top floor apartment, but I couldn’t complain…it was just all the more reason to indulge in sangria and tapas during the weekend (am I right?!) During our week in Rome, I played tour guide, showing Eric around my Roman neighborhood and taking him to my favorite gelaterias and piazzas. In Barcelona, Eric took the lead as we explored his old neighborhood, visited tourist attractions (like the Arc de Triompf, La Sagrada Familia, the Magic Fountain light show, and Park Guell), had lunch with his cousins and family members, and walked around the marina and the beach.
Visiting La Sagrada Familia was a highlight of the weekend for both of us. I have been in many churches and basilicas in Rome, but never have I seen anything like La Sagrada Familia. Antoni Gaudí designed the church to feel like a forest, with the columns acting as trees and the stain glass windows bringing energy and life to the inside of the cathedral. I’m not sure that I know enough about architecture to have a favorite architect, but if I were to have one, Gaudí would be it. Every detail of the church and the atmosphere it created was absolutely breathtaking. Both Eric and I agreed it was an incredible experience and was well worth the price of the ticket of entry.
Another highlight of the trip was food (shocking, I know). I think I had some of the best food I’ve had all semester during this weekend trip. My favorite meal is definitely a toss up between our dinner the first night at Arcano and our lunch on the marina at Merdendero de la Mari. At Arcano, the service was amazing, I had the best octopus and salmon of my life, and enjoyed my first glass glasses of sangria in Barcelona. Another fantastic meal was at Merendero de la Mari, a gorgeous restaurant located right by the water. Here, we enjoyed the best calamari I have ever eaten and steaming hot plates of seafood paella that we wished would last forever. Oh, and of course, a pitcher of sangria was the perfect pairing to this meal.
My weekend in Barcelona was one of the best weekends of my life. I absolutely fell in love with the city and now consider it my favorite city I visited during this semester. It has a little bit of everything…adorable residential areas, streets with impressive shopping and dining, a beautiful beach and marina, incredible nightlife, and some of the most unique and beautiful architecture I have ever seen. Plus, the ease of using the smooth metro system and affordable taxis made coming back to Rome’s insane traffic and extremely crowded metro a bit of a nightmare. In addition to my newfound love for Barcelona, I was lucky enough to experience it with Eric. This was our first experience traveling together, and I don’t think we could have made a better team. I look back on this weekend with only the fondest of memories and look forward to the future with so much excitement: excitement for my next trip back to Barcelona (there is no way I can stay away now) and for so many more trips to come with the best travel partner I could ever ask for.
Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),
My experience in Rome and traveling through Europe has made for the best three months of my life. However, at every beautiful sight I saw, at each new place I visited, and during every incredible meal, a thought constantly remained on my mind…I wish Eric could be experiencing this with me. Eric is my boyfriend and my best friend, and all around, the best person in the world, so when he finally arrived in Rome this past Saturday (after he traveled for over 24 hours and dealt with lost luggage), I was easily the happiest girl in the Mediterranean. 🙂
By Sunday afternoon, Eric had his luggage (yay!) and our time in Rome could officially begin. Our week together was absolutely perfect, and the weather was gorgeous. We embraced the “touristy” part of the city, but I also showed him around Garbatella, the part of Rome I have come to call home. To fuel up for all of our adventures, we made sure to eat all of the Italian food and wine that our bodies could handle (and then some…).
Rome has treated me so well for the past three months, but Eric’s visit here showed me beauty in this city that I have never seen before. Like Jack Johnson sings, “it’s always better when we’re together.”
P.S. If you are drooling over this food (like we did), the restaurants we visited (in order) were La Romana (gelateria), Marco G, Osteria dell’Anima (famous for its pear pasta), Verde Pistacchio (great vegan and vegetarian options), and Osteria Barberini (famous for truffles). They were all amazing, and I highly recommend each one!
And to clarify, I promise I do more than just eat here (hehe 😉 )