Sunday, March 29, 2015

California Coastline

During my Spring Break (the last one that I will ever have!), I took a day trip down to San Diego with a friend for my very first time. It was a beautiful place and there were plenty of cool stops along the way that made for great photo ops! We took advantage of the beautiful coastline for a photo shoot with crashing waves and sea salted hair. 

Sometimes a little laughter is all you need-- we made time to lay in the grass and relax a little in the beautiful beach town of La Jolla. I wore a colorful maxi dress that I found on sale at TJ Maxx for $15 paired with a necklace that was on sale at the same retailer for just $5! 

I just LOVE the cutouts of this dress, and the chunky necklace absolutely shines in this photo.

My friend matched in a vibrant Hawaiian print shirt that shows that men, too, may be coordinated and trendy in their everyday wear. 

Overall, it was a lovely trip and I'm so glad that I finally got to experience this more southern part of California. I was tempted to keep driving towards Mexico, but we inevitably had to return home after a long, yet enjoyable day. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Classy Cool

While we have been having beautiful weather here in California, I can't help but feel sorry for my friends and family back on the East Coast who are buried under mounds of snow and ice. So, lets take a break from the winter gloom and remember a time that was filled with warm weather, sunshine, and nights that were comfortable enough to venture outside without a jacket. 

Say you'll remember me standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset.
There's nothing like a sunset to evoke inspiration, especially when New York City is your backdrop. I had the pleasure of having a little rooftop photo shoot a while back while visiting a friend in the city (try to imagine a time when the cityscape didn't resemble an arctic tundra). Los Angeles will forever own my heart, but NYC is a great alternative for some, and a nice place to visit on occasion! 

You never know what you might find while exploring the streets of New York, and I happened to stroll by an LF, completely unaware that they were having an annual one-day sale, with up to 70%off! Anyone familiar with this store will know that this was an incredible discovery, since their prices are generally steeper than what can be accommodated by an average college student's finances. 

I absolutely fell in love with this blue flowered dress with a cut-out middle, which I purchased for  around $30 (!!!). It's cute and fun, with just enough edge for this chic city. 

Because it was summertime, I decided to add a pop of pink lipstick to contribute to the vibrant, youthful look:

 I was captivated by the beauty surrounding me; the natural gradation of colors from the setting sun combined with the industrial flare of the city was awe-inspiring. In the bustle of the busy city, it can sometimes be hard to remember to stop and take a look around you every once in a while. In this moment, I was reminded of a quote that I have become particularly fond of: 

"And forget not that the earth delights 
to feel your bare feet and the wind longs 
to play with your hair" 
-Kahlil Gibran

However, though it is imperative that a lady know how to dress up, she must also be able to dress it down. While many girls my age op for the 'disheveled sweatpants' look, I like to remain stylish even while seeking comfort in my wardrobe. 

I try to go for a style that is casual, comfortable, and trendy.

I achieve this goal by pairing a laid-back tank top from Brandy Melville with a pair of paisley-printed lounge pants from Urban Outfitters. While these pants may be a little eccentric for some, I think that they are absolutely adorable-- and bold.  

These sunglasses are from Free People for $18 :)

 From classy to cool, these are my typical city looks. 
How do you find a balance between comfortable and cute?
Leave a comment and share your style tips!


Friday, February 13, 2015

All The Single Ladies

I'm taking a break from my usual posts to send an important Valentine's Day message:

"On Valentine's Day, we wear BLACK"

To many, Valentine's Day is a magical holiday filled with romantic gestures that express deep feelings of love and devotion. It is a time when the air is potent with desire, promises of commitment, and the hope for long-lasting relationships; a time dedicated to those lucky few who have found a piece of their souls within another individual, their better halves.

BUT, if you're a single girl like me, it can be your own personal hell in which the rest of the world takes great joy in flaunting their relationships in front of you, leaving you feeling lonely and vulnerable. During this time of great emotional distress, I take solace in the copious amounts of wine and chocolate that are available for consumption.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of Valentine's Day…. but there is a lot of pressure put on young women around this time of year. However, I'm here to tell you that it is OKAY not to have a boyfriend. Or a date, for that matter.

I'm a hopeless romantic. I'm the type of girl who has thought about marriage since I was fifteen. I would love to find that person that I'm going to spend "forever" with, now. But that is not always how it works out. So, for those in-between years when you find yourself hopelessly single, rather than mourning your loneliness, you should be embracing your independence.

 I always tell my friends that I'm going to marry my next boyfriend because dating is so exhausting. But that's not really that much of a stretch, considering I am extremely picky when it comes to men. I would never jump into a relationship with someone unless I could see it going somewhere, hopefully indefinitely. There is a Marina and the Diamonds lyric that goes, "every boyfriend is the one, until otherwise proven," which is the motto that I live by when dating. I would never settle for anyone less than what I believe I deserve, or for anyone that would not make me completely happy.

SO, while I do not have a date for Valentine's Day, I know that it is because it is my choice. Could I get a date with some random guy that I don't care about? Sure! But that would not be fulfilling for me. Therefore, I choose my independence.

In the past four years that I have been single (yes, four years), I have grown so much as a person. I have learned a lot about myself, and what I want in a partner. I also abide by the philosophy that everything happens for a reason. If I am single now, it is because every guy that I have come into contact with up until this moment was not right for me, which means that it can only get better from here. Mr. Right will show up sooner or later, so for now, I can take this time to further refine my tastes and focus on myself. And who knows, maybe the next guy will be the one. I'm willing to wait to find out, whether it be four months from now, or four years.

In the meantime, I recommend going out with your girlfriends and celebrating the beautiful freedom that you possess as young women. Or, if you prefer a quiet night in, curl up on the couch with a glass (or bottle) of wine and watch a lighthearted, fun movie (My personal recommendation would be a classic like Clueless or Mean Girls). Channel your inner Beyonce and blast "Single Ladies" while you devour pizza or ice cream, or just do something for you, because you won't be able to be with anyone else if you can't stand to be by yourself.

Lastly, just remember this: You are beautiful. You, alone. You do not need a man to determine your worth.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Grammy Fever

It's award season again, which means that all of our favorite shows and live performances are right around the corner, including the 57th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday! I was fortunate enough to attend the Grammys last year and it was one of the most amazing shows I have ever witnessed. The huge auditorium of the Staples Center was filled with excitement and love for the passion that each artist pours into their work. Even I felt overwhelmed with emotion, and a part of me wanted to cry every time I saw one of my idols stand up to perform. It was an experience that I would not give up for the world, so this post is dedicated to that special night, in honor of the ceremony that will take place tomorrow.

You might be wondering how a simple college student like myself would be able to attend such a prestigious and iconic award show like the Grammys. Well, my only answer is this: Luck. I applied online to be a seat filler during the show. Thousands of people (according to the website, up to 30,000) apply every year to do this, but they are only allowed to accept around 500 people to act as seat fillers. Therefore, they conduct a lottery of the applicants, meaning that whoever is selected is solely by chance. This is why I say I attended by luck, as my odds were 1 in 60 that I would be able to go. 

Being a seat filler means that I would be placed in seating within the first few rows from the stage in order to prevent the appearance of any vacant seats when the cameras go by, as this is a televised event. If anyone gets up from their seat, I would replace them temporarily. This meant that I had a lot of movement over the evening, but it was well worth it. In fact, I rather enjoyed it because, each time I moved, I was put closer to a different celebrity and had a new vantage point. 

My first seat was a few rows away from Neil Patrick Harris, which I thought was pretty cool. However, when I was moved for the first time, I was placed even closer to the stage, directly behind Beyonce and Jay-Z. I was close enough to see the rings glimmering on Beyonce's fingers. Obviously, this was a big OMG moment for me, since I love Beyonce, but I didn't get to keep this seat for long. However, throughout the night, I found myself in very convenient places during the show. I was sitting right in front of Lorde when she won both of her awards, and later I was seated in front of Imagine Dragons and directly behind Daft Punk when they won their award for Album of the Year. Of course, I watched the awards again later on, to see if I could see myself on TV. And yes, yes I could.

Here, I am the small face in between one of the members of Daft Punk and the man to the right of him. This gives you some perspective as to how close I was to the artists (as well as to how psycho I am for feeling the need to look this up and screenshot it).
In this photo, I am seated directly in front of the members of Imagine Dragons, who are covered in some red substance, that I can only imagine is paint, after their performance (which was phenomenal).
My favorite performances of the night were by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, Taylor Swift, and Lorde (in no particular order). Beyonce sang "Drunk in Love" and opened the show on such a high note that it energized the audience for the rest of the evening. Katy Perry and Imagine Dragons employed theatrics which really enhanced their performances. While Lorde and Taylor Swift left out the special effects of the others, the heart that they put into each song demonstrated such raw emotion and depth that it made up for the lack of aesthetics. Taylor Swift also sang one of my favorite songs by her, "All Too Well." My favorites are the sad songs, the ones with lyrics that speak to you. I am hopelessly attracted to everything that is beautifully tragic; a testament to the romantic in me. 

 It was also amazing to see Paul McCartney live, as I am an avid fan of The Beatles. It was indescribable to be able to hear the last remnant of such a legendary band, performing in just a fraction of his former glory, as age and life have taken their toll. 

Honorable Mention also goes out to John Legend and Kacey Musgraves. I never paid much attention to John Legend before, but after hearing him sing "All of Me" live, I was blown away. Both the lyrics and the passion behind the song really struck a chord with me and made me love John Legend and his music. It made me really want to find a man who can sing for me because it had such a powerful effect  (Gentlemen, if you sing for me, I will probably marry you). Kacey Musgraves surprised me because, though I absolutely hate country music, I was impressed by how catchy and pop-sounding the song "Follow Your Arrow" is. I also loved her simple yet effective scenery of neon cacti at twilight. She looked adorable in her lit-up cowboy boots and the fabulous dress that she was wearing, and I can always admire a girl with style. 

But of course, one of the most important things that I had to consider while preparing for the Grammys was my outfit. And if you know me at all, you would know that I would not be anything less than fierce.

I thought that a formal dress would be the obvious choice, so I opted for something a little different by wearing a completely sequined black jumpsuit, which I got on sale from Urban Outfitters for around $50. This isn't the type of piece that I would expect to find at UO, so I was excited to encounter it on the clearance rack. When it came to the jewelry, I actually just recycled my old prom jewelry, which I still keep and wear often. With the combination of sequins and jewels, I felt sufficiently glamourous (and proceeded to have a photo shoot by the pool at my apartment complex). 

An outfit is not complete without a fabulous pair of shoes. These sparkling heels are from DSW and helped me dazzle from head to toe. The only thing better than a pair of hot shoes is a discounted pair of hot shoes.

D. H. Lawrence wrote: 
"All people dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they dream their dreams with open eyes and make them come true."

This has become one of my favorite quotes, and I like to think of myself as a dreamer by day. I set my sights on things that I want, and though they may at first seem out of reach, I vow to work until my visions become actualized. Being able to attend the Grammys was a dream come true, and I believe that this is only the beginning; the best is yet to come.

So, who is going to tune into the Grammys tomorrow evening? I am personally eager to see Lady Gaga (with Tony Bennett), as she was not present at last year's event. Leave a comment and tell me which performance you are most excited to see!


Monday, January 26, 2015


Hey Trendsetters,

As I mentioned in my previous post, A Semester Abroad, I was able to travel a lot outside of my host country during my semester in London. So here are all of the photos, stories, and fashion statements from the rest of my travels and excursions!

Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany)

My first destination was the famous Oktoberfest festival. Everyone has heard stories about the legendary beer tents with an endless amount of beer-filled steins, so I knew that it was an opportunity that I could not miss. I happened to be in Europe in the fall, when Oktoberfest takes place, so it became #1 on my travel list. While I like to tell people that I've been to Germany, I regrettably didn't see much of the country outside of the festival, itself. I would love to revisit the home of many of my ancestors in order to get a better understanding of the culture. However, I did pick up a few things….

First off, I should tell you that I went to Germany by myself. I was the only one from my school in CA who studied abroad in London that semester, and most people in my program that went to Oktoberfest had made plans with other people from their home schools in advance. It was mid-September when I decided that I would go, which is extremely late, since Oktoberfest begins a couple weeks later (it actually starts in September, despite its name). This means that finding hotels/lodging is difficult, and expensive. However, in my web searching, I happened upon a company that sets up temporary hostels for events, called Hostival, the Festival Hostel (Here is their Facebook page).  They had the most reasonable prices that I had seen and were located near a train that can take you directly to the festival every day. The hostel incorporates different themes for each festival, and the theme they had chosen for Oktoberfest was the Hangover Hospital, which seemed all too fitting.

The rooms were essentially tents filled with bunk beds for a total of twelve people in each. My tent was labeled the "Plastic Surgery Room" and I shared it with five men. They were kind and kept to themselves, and did not make me feel intimidated in the least. The hostel also hosted a "club crawl" in the evening, when Oktoberfest had closed, which I took part in the first night. I made friends with a group of Americans who also happened to be studying in London at a different school, and actually kept in touch with them when I got back to the city. We also went with each other to the festival the following day.

However, on the first day, I had boarded a plane to Munich on my own, not knowing what was in store for me. I was a little nervous to be traveling by myself to a German-speaking country where I would be completely foreign and inevitably lost. Luckily, a lovely German man sat next to me on the plane, and we chatted the entire way there. He had been in London for work and was on his way home. Though he didn't even have plans to go to Oktoberfest that day, he offered to accompany me there and help me find my hostel. As soon as we landed he told me that I had to experience a "traditional German breakfast," and treated me to one at the airport. The breakfast consisted of white sausages, a soft pretzel, mustard, and practically a gallon of beer (at 10am, mind you). To top it all off, he helped me to navigate the trains and bought a ticket for me that would last the entire weekend. I have heard a lot of stereotypes about Germans, but all of the ones I have been fortunate to meet have blown me away with their kindness. It just goes to show that you never know who you might meet in your travels, but if you keep an open mind and a warm disposition, it will work out in your favor.

BUT I am not saying that you should not be careful. When I met this man, I received completely good vibes and I wasn't hesitant at all to continue my journey with him. Therefore, my advice would be to follow your gut. I am generally a trusting person, but people are capable of things that I shudder to even think about. You cannot run off with just anyone that you meet in a foreign country and assume that you will be safe. Assess the situation and use your best judgement to make decisions. I would have been hopelessly lost if I had not accepted the guidance of this man, but I can see how the circumstances could have gone drastically differently.

My first night at Oktoberfest, with my native tour guide.
It was late afternoon by the time we actually arrived at Oktoberfest, which means that the beer tents were full. Fortunately, my new guide knew a guy working in one of them, so we were allowed in, despite the fact that it was over capacity. My first few glimpses of the festival were overwhelming, yet exciting. We drank down steins of beer and joined in with the lively and festive atmosphere. The tent was full of live music, singing, and all sorts of merry-making. We made friends with an Australian, who was a riot, and I learned my first German word: PROST! (cheers!)

I was amazed by the waitresses, who could carry five of these heavy steins at a time, in each hand!

After having our fill of beer, we decided to explore other aspects of the festival, like rides:


These are traditional German gingerbread hearts, which are sometimes kept and hung as decorations, rather than eaten.

and, of course, FOOD:

These are two versions of a traditional dumpling soup, one with meat and the other with dough and mushrooms.

This was some sort of doughy-potato thing in a broth that I randomly selected from a German menu… I actually ate this on my second day of Oktoberfest. It was a warm welcome to my hangover and was necessary before I could partake in the drinking activities of that day. 

The giant pretzels are a staple of Oktoberfest, and the German diet. Surprisingly, though, they were served cold.
I searched high and low to find my favorite German dish: spaetzle (a type of german dumpling). This version is made with cheese and topped with crispy onions. 

Not featured here, but highly popular in German cuisine is the Hendl-- an entire roasted chicken. 

Though I was traveling by myself, I went in without any expectations and was willing to take each moment as it came. It really allowed me to branch out and, in the end, I wouldn't have done it any other way. This mindset translated to my other travels, most of which I did by myself.


Too often, people travel to a country and don't venture outside of its capital city. While I stayed in Dublin by night, I took excursions to other parts of the country by day. This way, I got the best of both worlds; I got a taste of the nightlife in Dublin while also seeing the beauty of the countryside that makes up the majority of this magical place. 

In Dublin, I walked around the bar district and popped into The Temple Bar, which is a well-known Irish destination. I stood at the crowded bar, listened to live music, and, of course, tasted the bitter flavor of a tall glass of Guinness. 

Sweater: Forever 21, Necklace: Primark (London, £8!)

During the day, I embarked on guided tours in order to see as much of the country as I could in a long weekend. My first trip was to the Cliffs of Moher, which are featured in the movie The Princess Bride (which I love!). It rained off and on during my trip and, though it was mostly sunny during this particular day, I fell victim to the merciless wind. 

I was really *blown away* by the sights in Ireland. 

We stopped at a couple of old graveyards in Ireland, which were eerie but beautiful.

Scarf: Forever 21, Jacket: Urban Outfitters

Boots: Steve Madden
The next day, I experienced the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, which is suspended between two cliffs over the ocean. I was happy to find that it was open for climbing, as they told us that it was borderline dangerous to cross with the wind. Though heights aren't my strongpoint, I wasn't phased by this activity and felt pretty safe crossing over to the other side, and back again. 

The same day, I travelled to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, and was chilled to the bone by the wind. However, it was worthwhile because it was an amazing sight to see! There is an Irish myth that the origins of the causeway are credited to two dueling giants. The rock in the righthand corner is thus called the Giant's Boot, because of its shape. 

There were a lot of cool rock formations at this site, and you have the option to climb the side of the cliff and see the causeway from an aerial view that is quite breathtaking. 

Scarf: Urban Outfitters, Jacket & Skirt: Forever 21
 On the third day I took a tour of some of the smaller sites and villages. The photo above is from a part of the countryside that was depicted in the movie P.S. I Love You, which happens to be one of my favorites! It is a beyond-beautiful country that I am so lucky to have been able to explore.

I have never seen a place that is so GREEN! (I guess the rain pays off for the Irish)

Last but not least: I could not have gone to Ireland without visiting some of its many castles. Here is Doune Castle, which was utilized several times in Monty Python

It was a windy and rainy trip, but I loved every minute of it. Sometimes you have to get through the rainstorm in order to experience the rainbow at the end. 

Barcelona (Spain)

During the month of November, my university participated in what is known as "Reading Week;" a week in which students are expected to dedicate their time to catching up on the semester's readings and homework. However, to us study abroad students, that meant an opportunity for an extended trip. I chose to stay in Barcelona for 10 days because I had a friend from my home school that was studying there for the semester. Though I was there for a longer amount of time, I managed to find something new to do every day and was sad when it came time to leave... Especially because it was nice to have some warmer weather to bask in! More sunshine meant an opportunity to exercise a less restrictive wardrobe.

One of the first things that I did was go on a walking tour of the Gaudí buildings. Gaudí is a renowned architect who filled Barcelona with his innovative and inspiring masterpieces. Here are a few that stood out:

 This is La Sagrada Familia, which is yet to be completed. You can see by the intricate details that it is not an easy feat, and it is not surprising that Gaudí was unable to finish it within his lifetime. 

This is one of my favorites by Guadí, the Casa Batlló. I just love the bright colors and organic structure of the exterior. 

The Casa Milà is another fantastic piece of architecture. Its curvy, natural shape defies the geometric aesthetics of most buildings. Fun fact: the structures on top served as inspiration for George Lucas in his creation of Star Wars (the two connected structures to the left notably resemble the stormtroopers while the structure to the far right is the influence for Darth Vader's mask).

Even the ground we were walking on was beautiful! These tiles were designed by Gaudí as well and lined the streets along his creations. (I was SO happy to be wearing sandals!)

Top: Topshop, Skirt: boutique ($40), Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters

There's a superstition that if you rub the lizard's nose, it brings good luck. 

Park Güell was another AMAZING place to explore, and was the only Gaudí design that was not visited on the walking tour. After hearing about it, I decided to see it for myself, and it was well worth the metro ride. The park is easily one of Gaudí's most beautiful creations, and the view from the top only adds to its marvel. This was by far one of my favorite attractions in Barcelona. 

I was so grateful for the sunshine and warm weather, and thrilled to be able to dress in more summery attire. I felt right at home in my vibrant floral skirt while walking around this colorful park. It truly was a great day.

The Parc de la Ciutadella was another one of my favorite places in Barcelona. The park is filled with naturally weaving paths surrounded by plants and flowers, and in the center sits this gorgeous fountain, which Gaudí also assisted with. I saw this on one of my last days in Barcelona and it was a wonderful capstone for my little vacation in Spain. 

A little bit of current affairs: Barcelona actually considers itself separate from Spain and is fighting to become its own country. They speak Catalan, which is a mix of languages like Spanish and Portuguese. 

Top: Topshop (love!), Skirt: boutique find (> $30) Pair the top with some nice shorts or pants and it works for a nighttime outfit as well!

This seemingly random mammoth statue sits in the midst of all the other statues in the park, just outside of the zoo (yes, the park has a zoo, too!) The sculpture was designed by sculptor Miguel Dalmau

 I also had the opportunity to partake in a street art walking tour:

Being a lover of art, I enjoyed this tour immensely. Graffiti is a form of art that often gets a bad rep because it is illegal in many places, so it was really cool to see it being both appreciated and celebrated. It was so interesting to hear the stories behind the artists and then being able to recognize a particular artist's style or content. 

And speaking of art….

I visited MANY museums while in Barcelona, the MNAC (above) being one of them. The building of the MNAC itself was a work of art, with its water falling fountain and pillared facade. I also saw the Picasso museum, the Miró museum, and Barcelona's Museum of Modern Art. It was such a privilege to be able to go to all of these places and learn more about the origins of the work that was displayed. For instance, I was mostly familiar with all of Picasso's later, more abstracted artwork, and had no idea that he was also a very talented painter of realism. 

Another grand structure was the Arc de Triumf, similar to the one in Paris. The lampposts surrounding the Arc were another design by Gaudí.

El Gat del Raval was a statue that stood in the middle of one district of Barcelona, called the Raval. It was made by Fernando Botero and has become a landmark of this area. 

During my stay in Barcelona, I treated myself to a fish pedi (which was around 10 euro). You sit with your feet in the water as fish swarm over them to eat the dead skin, leaving them smooth and healthy. It was an intriguing sensation that almost tickled. 

This adorable little cafe and bakery, called Pudding, made me feel like I had jumped straight into a Lewis Carol narrative. The giant mushroom trees paired with the delicious desserts offered here made this a tea-time wonderland. 

On the topic of food: I could not leave Barcelona without visiting La Boqueria, a market filled with fresh food, both cooked and raw. 

 I ate here a couple times, trying food that ranged from traditional tapas to batidos (milkshakes) to pumpkin ravioli! It was a cornucopia of colors and smells (I tried to stay away from the raw fish section), and you could tell that it is a place that is frequented by locals. 

However, when visiting Barcelona, you cannot forget about its nightlife! There are a number of bars, whether you prefer to be inland or beachside. The photos above and below are from a bar called Chupitos, which literally translates to "Shots." Their name is not misleading, as they have 570 different types of shots to choose from. The one I chose is called the Boy Scout, in which they light the bar on fire and make you take a shot as you roast marshmallows to use as a chaser. I definitely enjoyed the novelty of this bar, but it would be excessive to spend your entire night here. Feeling adventurous? Try the Blow-Job shot.

I also checked out several bars on the beach. I got into one for free because it was Ladies' Night, as well as Gay Night which made for a fun crowd. And in Barcelona, they party hard. One night I stayed out until 7 in the morning. A major advantage to partying all night: I was able to take the metro back to my hostel because it had reopened by that point.

After spending 10 days here, I feel like I got to know the city pretty well, and Barcelona will always hold a special place in my heart.

Paris (France)

Paris is a place that I have dreamed of visiting all my life. It is also the only trip that I went on with other people, a group of girls that I had become friendly with, because it seemed like it would be far too depressing to travel to "the City of Love" by myself. While I enjoyed it immensely, I would love to go back one day so that I could experience the romantic aspect of the city (When you're walking around with four other girls, it feels pretty platonic). Maybe with my future husband? 


One of the first things that I did upon my arrival in Paris was visit the Eiffel Tower. I waited an absurd amount of time in order to ride to the top on an elevator (though there is an option to climb an even more absurd amount of stairs to the top), but it definitely wasn't in vain. I could see the whole city and had the chance to really take Paris in. Though I was wearing a thick sweater, I was not prepared for the cold, and it felt as though the wind was blowing through my entire body, chilling me to my core. But that didn't matter. Sometimes you just get a feeling like you're in the right place at the right time, and that's how I felt on the top of that tower.

Ernest Hemingway wrote a novel called An Immoveable Feast, which is all about his life in Paris. There's a quote that always stands out for me, which this picture calls to mind:

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.” 

I want to go back to Paris when I can hear the breathing of someone who lays beside me in the moonlight. 

Considering Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge is my all-time favorite movie, I had to visit the place upon which the story was based. Ideally, I would love to see a show there, but I was only in Paris for a short weekend, so there wasn't time. 

The Sacré-Coeur is a beautiful cathedral in Montmarte, the area of Paris where our hotel was located. Parts of it are pretty seedy, but it made for an interesting (and brisk) walk to and from our lodgings. 

Did I mention the incredible view?

Below the cathedral was this charming carousel, though they're located sporadically around the city. We couldn't help but take a photo op!

Striped Shirt: Urban Outfitters, Faux-Fur Coat: Urban Outfitters (on sale!), Scarf: Paris ($5!)

The museums in Paris played a significant role in my stay there. I was over the moon to be able to visit the Louvre and see all of the artwork that I have only seen in pictures. Of course, it was essential to see the Mona Lisa, and we made it our mission to find it as soon as we got inside.

Everyone always says that they're disappointed by its size, but I think that it is still pretty spectacular to see it in person. 

But I paid attention to the lesser known art as well. The painting above was one of my favorites, mainly because of the idea behind it. The old man represents Death, and he is taking the young woman away. The young man loves her so much that he won't let her go and clings to her as she is guided away.

I was pleasantly surprised to see my girl Lady Gaga represented in the Louvre, as I had no idea that she had been collaborating on this project. Artist Robert Wilson cast her as his muse in his neoclassical video portraits. 

….I also took every opportunity to embarrass myself, clearly.

 Somewhat lesser known than the Louvre is the Musee d' Orsay, which is basically right next door.
It contains the work of artists like Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh, specializing mainly in Impressionism.

The Notre Dame Cathedral was another location on my bucket list, due to my avid love of Disney movies (Hunchback of Notre Dame, anyone?) It was neat to see the gargoyles in real life!

The official Love-Lock bridge is located directly behind the Notre Dame. Lovers from all over have come to the bridge to leave a lock as a symbol of their love and commitment to one another. Yet another reason why I need to go to Paris with a man. 

What's Paris without the macarons?! Though they are more expensive than the average pastry, I recommend visiting Ladurée. The macarons were divine and came in a wide array of flavors to choose from. I selected the salted caramel, coconut, and rose flavored ones!

Another (somewhat morbid) thing that we did in Paris was visit the Père Lachaise cemetery. It was kind of spooky walking around all of the tombs and burial sites, made even darker by the gray day. To me, it was hauntingly beautiful.  

One of those cliche sayings is "we'll always have Paris," but I love the poetry and the romance that lies within that cliche. I like to think that I will always have Paris, that it will forever remain a special place for me because it will remind me of my adventurous youth. 


Scotland is a magical place filled with folklore, and castles! You feel like you're back in Medieval times as you walk around the highlands and visit the old landmarks. I made my base in Edinburgh, which feels like a hybrid between old and modern with its cobblestone streets and contemporary shops, but took a 2-day tour through the highlands, up to Loch Ness (home to that infamous monster). 

My first night was spent in Edinburgh, and I arrived at my hostel hungry and exhausted. There was one other person in the 12-bunk room and he immediately asked me if I wanted to explore the nightlife with him and some friends. I thought about it for a minute and finally decided, "why not?!" embracing the spontaneity. After meeting up with his friends at a bar, we ended up at a céili, a traditional Scottish dance known for group and partner dances. I decided to reserve my judgement for the time being and gave in to the culture, which inevitably meant making a fool of myself on the dance floor as I jumped around and linked arms with strangers. 

I've never had more fun dancing in my life.

It reminded me of that scene from Titanic when Jack and Rose are below deck with the crew of the ship. That's what the music sounded like, too. Needless to say I had a blast, while disregarding my inability to dance well/rhythmically.  

Fur Headband: Primark (London), Sweater: Urban Outfitters, Boots: Steve Madden (DSW)
The next morning I set off bright and early, and slightly hungover, for my tour of the highlands. I was captivated by the mountains and the greenery that surrounded us on our drive. It doesn't even matter where you're going in Scotland because the entire view is picturesque. 

On the tour was a group of Germans that were traveling together, and me. They took me in as their honorary companion, making the trip all the more enjoyable. They all happened to be working in London, so I was able to reconnect with a couple of them after the trip. They, too, gave the German people a good name. We explored the sites, had pleasant conversations, and went out together at night. 

Scotland is also the home of my newfound alcoholic love: Crabbie's Ginger Beer. Another point to the Germans because they introduced me to it. While ginger beer is common in the states as a soft drink, Crabbie's is the only brand of alcoholic ginger beer I have ever found. If you like ginger, then this is a drink for you. My brother actually found this brand in the states recently at a Target while visiting me in CA, which shocked me because I can never find it anywhere, though I've looked.

Back in Edinburgh, I went on a walking tour of the city and heard many great stories and histories. 

This cafe is allegedly the place where J. K. Rowling penned the first Harry Potter. Because of her success, the cafe now leaves paper and pens/pencils at every table, in case inspiration strikes. 

This is actually a photo from inside the castle, not the front of the castle, itself.
Another major site to check out was the Edinburgh Castle, which I enjoyed walking around at sunset. There is also a scenic view, as it sits atop a hill. It was extremely convenient because the hostel I was staying at was just below the castle. 

I explored a little more on my own, as I had some free time. I visited a Camera Obscura museum, filled with optical illusions and fun activities. I also walked to the Christmas market, which was filled with rides, food and spiced wine. These markets are modeled after the ones in Germany (another point to the Germans), so many of the rides are German themed and they sell the gingerbread hearts that I saw at Oktoberfest. Several countries adopt these Christmas markets, especially in London, where it gets very festive around the holidays. 


My travels while abroad provided me with an indescribable, life-altering experience. I have grown to appreciate other customs and cultures and have an insatiable desire to imbibe all I can from the world. I have grown a lot as a person through my travels, where I have been forced to be independent and street-smart. Many people ask me what my favorite place to visit was, and I do not have an answer. I loved them all in different ways, for different reasons. I love above all the possibility of travel, and I realize that I am very fortunate to have had that luxury. I hope to be just as lucky in the future, because there is still so much of the world left for me to see. I have been possessed with a spirit of wanderlust, so much so that I feel like travel and adventure and spontaneity are a part of who I am, and who I will forever be.