Berlin, Germany

To finish spring break, I headed toward Berlin, Germany, in hopes to get a better idea of past history and explore Germany’s capital.

At first, I went into the city with a close-minded idea that it was going to be depressing, but was very surprised at the liveliness and beauty Berlin has to offer. I left with an attitude of gratefulness that I was able to learn more about the Holocaust and indulge myself in German culture.

What I Visited:

(1) The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum

While the colors are rather dull, they are full of stories of Jewish history everyone should learn about. This is such a surreal experience to examine art that is dedicated to the lives that were lost during the Holocaust.

There is also a long hallway in this museum that has remains of belongings that have been salvaged that tell stories behind the individuals or families they belonged to.

(2) Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The weekend we visited Berlin it was freezing and slightly snowing, but standing in the line in these weather conditions to visit this museum was so SO worth it.

I loved the set up of this museum. As you walk through the entry hallway, there are stories of the Holocaust from beginning to end hanging on the walls.

The next room you enter are written notes (originally German, but then translated in English to the side) from loved ones talking about their journeys of migrating to find safety, work, etc. Warning you now- this was the most emotional part of the museum.

Then, there is another room that has stories of individuals or families and talks about their journey through the Holocaust.

(3) The East Berlin Wall Art Gallery

Quote from the East Berlin Wall Art Gallery

Upon arrival of the East Berlin Wall, I was shocked to see all of the beautiful color it was painted with. In my mind, I pictured an off-white brick wall, but I was wrong!

East Berlin Wall doves
East Berlin Wall gate with locks

P.S. my pink, fluffy scarf is on sale! Just under $10-  H&M Blush Pink Fluffy Scarf

Shop my favorite lip stain here: Marc Jacobs “Shush, Blush”

(4) Brandenburg Gate

What Else to See:

(1) Reichstag Building

This is Germany’s Parliament House. While you’re visiting the Brandenburg Gate, go ahead and see this phenomenal building right behind the gate!

(2) Checkpoint Charlie

I didn’t have much time while I was in Berlin, but if I visit again I’ll be sure to go here!

(3) Alexanderplatz and Potsdamer Platz

These are both city squares that are stunning with beautiful skyscrapers.

What to Eat:

(1) All kinds of pizza from Social Salami Club

I happened to be there on a Thursday night, when they were running a special where each slice of pizza was only €1.

The way it works: they cook multiple pizzas, then you go to the counter and pick which one you want.

The staff is extremely sociable, so you’re sure to have fun while you’re there! It’s a rather small restaurant, but so worth going in!

(2) The Barn Cafe:

I had a soup (not sure what the name is) and a slice of orange cake- the cake was my favorite! Of course I had a flat white, too!

Soup from The Barn Cafe
Orange Cake from The Barn Cafe

(3) Shiso Burger:

I had a chili lemon burger – highly recommend!

Chili Lemon Burger with angus beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, ketchup, cilantro & lime-mayo chili sauce

The presentation here was also very cute- your burgers and fries came out in separate, circular, cardboard frames.

(4) Hopfingerbräu im Palais

I had curry wurst and potatoes with mayonnaise. I’m dying to learn how to cook German food now! Also, I know french fries with mayonnaise sounds so unappealing, but I’ve made a habit of it now and won’t be able to break it when I get back to the States!

(5) Reichert Bakery

Everything in here is to die for. I can’t spell or pronounce anything, but I got some kind of strawberry cheesecake. I don’t think it’s possible to get anything you won’t like!

Thanks for reading,

-Rach

PARIS!

Bonjour!

This may be a bit of a lengthy post, but rightfully so. Paris is an incredible city that deserves lots of love, so here goes:

(1) Luxembourg Garden:

This is a gorgeous park you MUST take a stroll in. There’s a pond where kids have sailboat competitions, families play bocce ball, the list goes on. It’s a large park, so you can spend quite a bit of time there.

(2) Crepes at Au P’tit Grec:

This is a street stand where you grab a crepe and go. Both times I went, there was quite a long line, but well worth the wait.

My first one was a “Savoyarde,” which had potatoes, Raclette (Savoy cheese), country ham, lettuce, tomatoes and onion.

Savoyarde Crepe

My second one was the “Crepe du Chef,” which had coppa (Italian ham) mozzarella, tomatoes, onion, lettuce, and I requested to add potatoes (great idea).

Crepe du Chef (with added potatoes)

(3) The Pantheon:

All along I thought the rave about the Pantheon was about the one in Rome, but turns out there’s a Pantheon in Paris, too.

Pantheon in Paris

(4) Notre Dame

It was quite popular on a Saturday night, but still had to get a picture in front!

Notre Dame + Me

(5) Starbucks:

I know what you’re thinking- “Why Starbucks in Paris?”

Honestly, I have been missing my go-to order back home: a blueberry scone and a flat white. Except this time, it was just a coffee with milk and nutmeg, and a blueberry muffin. Still a VERY happy me!

A blueberry muffin and a coffee with milk and nutmeg.

(6) Tuileries Garden:

Paris knows how to do parks. Tuileries Garden is another stunning place for a stroll and time with family and friends!

Ferris wheel at the Tuileries Garden

(7) Eiffel Tower:

The Tuileries Garden is very close to the Eiffel Tower, so if you visit one or the other, be sure to go ahead and visit both!

Eiffel Tower + Me

The night before my friends and I left, we went to the Eiffel Tower to watch it twinkle for a proper goodbye to Paris. The tower begins sparkling at 10 p.m. and sparkles on the hour for 5 minutes!

I suggest stopping for a savory crepe somewhere around the Eiffel Tower- I got a nutella and banana crepe!

Nutella & Banana Crepe at the Eiffel Tower

(8) Avenue of Champs Elysees:

This is a mile long strip of all of the most incredible things you can think of- Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Perfumeries and Macaroons, you name it!

I had Pierre Herme macaroons and they were so good because you had the option to have two flavors instead of one! I had raspberry with pistachio (“Montebello”), then Madagascar chocolate with dark chocolate (“Ultime”).

They also came in the cutest little origami boxes!

Pierre Herme origami boxes

The “Montebello” flavor was my favorite!

“Montebello”- Raspberry & Pistachio

(9) Arc de Triomphe:

Once you finish walking the strip of Champs Elysees, be sure to check out this monument!

(10) Le “Relais de l’Entrecote”:

Bottomless steak and fries, anyone?

This restaurant is a total tourist spot, but so SO worth it!

Bottomless steak + fries!!

(11) Midore:

If you have the chance, you must go to this bakery! While I was there, I got a baguette and the most incredible slice of chocolate chip flan. Wish I had some right now!

Midore Chocolate Chip Flan

(12) Fromagerie Cheese Shop:

This is a small cheese shop that was located right next to our airbnb, and it had the prettiest selection of cheeses! I got goat and gouda cheese, peach and blackberry yogurt, and rice pudding. Isn’t it the cutest?

Fromagerie Cheese Shop

(13) Louvre Museum:

I had no idea how massive this museum is! This is my favorite thing I have EVER DONE!

I love the organization of the museum. I saw the sections of Islamic art, Spanish, Italian, Grecian, Egyptian and Mediterranean. And yes, I did see the Mona Lisa. And yes, it is way smaller than I had hoped for!

(14) Shakespeare & Company Bookstore:

This is a beautiful, two-story bookstore with all English books.

(15) Museum d’Orsay:

Head here to see Picasso’s art, Degas’, Monet’s and Van Gogh’s.

(16) Centre Pompidou:

This is such a fun, modern museum. You can’t miss it by its looks on the outside- a bunch of HUGE tubes!

(17) Rodin House:

Besides the Louvre, the Rodin House was my second favorite thing to visit in Paris. Rodin completed lots of sculptures during his time and this museum houses all of them. While you’re there, be sure to take a walk around the garden, too, and enjoy a cappuccino!

(18) The Palace of Versailles:

You can take a train from Paris to Versailles and back for under $10! The Palace is absolutely stunning, as is the courtyard. Be sure to check out Marie Antoinette’s estate as well!

Don’t forget to treat yourself to Laduree Macaroons!

Raspberry, Pistachio, Vanilla, Caramel, Rose, Dark Chocolate and Lavender Laduree Macaroons

Thanks for following along,

-Rach

 

 

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

A medieval town with the addition of a new town, Edinburgh is the perfect city to visit for a weekend.

If you decide to go during springtime, be sure to bundle up. I spent the first weekend of March here, and I arrived to a thick layer of snow and saw more snow fall during my three days there.

Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

Patagonia Parka: If there’s anything I’ve learned about being cold, I feel best when my backside and bottom has some extra length to it! This parka is from last season, but I linked a similar one. The one linked has a hood with it, which I wish mine had!

J. Crew Jeans: I love these jeans because they’re thicker than your usual denim and keep you warm. They stay right in place, too! I’m 5’4″ and they hit at the perfect place on my ankles.

Boots: These are a classic pair of light brown, heeled boots that I have on in this photo that did keep me warm, but were NOT hiking-friendly for Arthur’s Seat (I’ll talk about this later).

Boots I DO suggest for snowy Edinburgh: I have these boots in the color “sand,” and they are insulated with sheep’s fur on the inside, keeping your feet SUPER warm without the need for thick socks. MAN, do I wish I would have had these packed with me! These have laces so you can loosen and tighten them as needed, which is nice if you need to tuck your pants into the boots. Also, the tracking on the bottom is excellent to keep you trekking through slick and snowy areas.

Beanie: I just have on the classic CC beanie, with a detachable pom on top. A layer around your ears is necessary to keep you from completely going crazy in the cold!

Friday, March 2:

After settling into our hostel, we set out to explore Arthur’s Seat. This is a beautiful set of hills located in the “Old Town” of Edinburgh.

And this is why I mentioned earlier that I made a mistake with the boots I was wearing- they were NOT hiking material. I tried to hike as far as I could, but let’s just say I didn’t exactly make it to the top.

Partially up the largest hill – Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

If you visit Edinburgh, don’t make the same mistake I did by packing the wrong shoes. Make sure you pack hiking shoes so you can make it to the top and experience the full outlook over the city! Partially up the hill will still give you a beautiful view, anyway.

If you’re able to visit when there’s snow around, I highly suggest gathering your family and friends and taking a few sledding boards. I saw so many families out pushing each other around and it looked like so much fun!

I also suggest taking a snack and possibly a hot drink with you. I stopped at a little cafe, Holyrood Coffee Shop, which was between our hostel and Arthur’s Seat.

Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

I got a hot, fruit tea with a mixed berry scone. I loved this little place so much that I did go twice during my short stay!

Mixed Berry Scone & Hot Fruit Tea

After finishing our hike, my friends and I decided to do a little shopping to warm-up. We found the cutest vintage shop called W. Armstrong & Son. There are three locations in Edinburgh, and we made it to two of the three. I was so impressed with this shop because of the organization. They had a section of sweaters, blue jean jackets, leather jackets, kilts (of course), even wedding dresses and much more!

For dinner, we ate at The Last Drop. At this point, we were all so cold that we wanted to stay right around our hostel. I highly recommend staying at Budget Backpackers in Edinburgh because of the great location and great price (per person per night ranges anywhere from €9-€14).

The Last Drop has such a neat history behind it- it’s all about a young girl named Maggie who was on trial, hung, and then survived for 40 years after the hanging. The waiters here were very friendly and the restaurant provided a great atmosphere.

I had a lentil cottage pie, which was a lentil and vegetable pie topped with sweet potato and carrot mash, served with a side salad.

Side note: I’m not really sure why it was called a “cottage pie” because there definitely wasn’t cottage cheese in it- in case you were worried/grossed out!

Also, The Last Drop has GREAT cappuccinos!

After dinner, we ventured out to find some dessert, and ended up at Vittoria Restaurant.

I had the sticky toffee pudding, which was topped with hot toffee sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was excellent!

Sticky Toffee Pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with a waffle crisp

Saturday, March 3:

To start the day, we began with breakfast at the Filling Station. I had french toast with fresh berries on top and a berry compote sauce. I also had a hazelnut latte (I’ve been deprived of hazelnut and french vanilla creamer while in Italy)- it was so yummy and a taste of home.

Filling Station French Toast with fresh berries & a berry compote sauce

Next, we took a Sandeman’s Tour of “The Royal Mile.”

If you’re in Europe and are looking for affordable tours, I highly suggest these tours.

The way it works: they are technically “free,” but at the end, you tip your tour guide whatever you found the tour to be worth. These tours are typically anywhere from 2-4 hours, and you can easily spot them at the meeting location with their red umbrellas.

P.S.- I stopped at a Starbucks before the tour to have something hot while I was walking through the cold. I had a matcha tea latte (and added a bit of sugar). I highly recommend trying it! It’s a nice switch up (and healthy too).

While on our tour, we stopped at the Grassmarket Centre. Ironically, this was right across from our hostel.

At the cafe, I had a chai masala tea and a raisin scone.

Grassmarket Centre- Scone with raisins

Lunch: Olly Bongo’s. This was a cute, small restaurant with lots of different options. I had a baked potato with chili, a side salad, and cole slaw.

I also needed an afternoon pick-me-up, so I had a cappuccino there as well.

Cappuccino at Olly Bongo’s

After lunch, we visited the Scottish National Gallery. Bonus: free entrance!

I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I visited a catfe while I was there. I’ve been missing some animal time! We went to Maison de Moggy and it was a nice way to stay warm.

Cost: £8 for one hour. While you’re there, you can order dessert and coffee.

Sunday, March 4:

I went back to Holyrood Cafe for breakfast, and had a cappuccino and a blueberry muffin.

Hollyrood Cappuccino
Hollyrood Blueberry Muffin

After that, I did some souvenir shopping throughout The Royal Mile.

For lunch, we went to The Elephant Room, which is where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration to write the Harry Potter series.

I wrote my post cards here and enjoyed a flat white and a chicken pot pie with brown gravy and mashed potatoes.

Chicken Pot Pie with brown gravy & mashed potatoes
Writing post cards at The Elephant Room

This is a place I HIGHLY suggest eating if you go to Edinburgh!

Thanks for reading along with my travels,

-Rach

How Thoughts Control Your Happiness

Photo Credit: Riley Madlock

Happy International Day of Happiness! Today, I wanted to share with you how important it is to know that YOU control your happiness. As I was listening to Joyce Meyer’s podcast series “Thinking Your Way Out of Bondage,” I was inspired to change the path of my thoughts.

On this cheesy holiday, this podcast couldn’t have been any more perfect because it gave me a new perspective on what happiness is all about.

Happiness isn’t what society tells you. Your thoughts control your happiness.

If you’ve been struggling with maintaining a positive attitude lately, change HOW you’re thinking about things.

Meyer gave the example of a house owner who kept thinking bad thoughts about a plant she had in her house. The owner was always worried about the leaves, and one day she noticed they were all dead, regardless of the care she was giving it. Meyer explained this as a life lesson to the owner to think encouraging thoughts about the plant, instead of negative ones.

And so the lesson goes for the rest of us: if we think of an uplifting outcome of things we would normally tear apart, our end result will be significantly better.

This goes on to affect our relationships with those around us also. If we think only loving thoughts of others, our relationships will be much better. Don’t forget to only think kind thoughts of yourself, too!

I’m not saying that spontaneous, weekend trips with friends and comedic movies don’t make us happy, but do remember to be happy from the core, you must start with what is going on inside of your mind first.

Hope you’ve had a lovely Tuesday!

XO,

Rach

 

 

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy, is a beautiful, small town in Tuscany. It made up for the crazy start to my morning.

After walking downstairs five flights with purses and cameras in hand, three girls are on their way to the metro to ride quite a few stops to the train station, Termini. Finally to the bottom floor and out the door, one girl realizes she doesn’t have her purse. OR her key. (Okay Rachel, just be patient).

Now we are finally back on our way to the metro, and the ride to the train station seems longer than usual. Upon arrival, we find out our train is stationed at the farthest platform. So, off we run, and there I have probably met my burned calories goal for the day. The train conductor laughs and says we have made it just in time, and welcomes us on the train.

In three shorts hours, we arrive in Siena.

Siena outlook

Our first stop is Catherine’s Basilica. This church has a medieval theme (as does the town), and is adorned with beautiful, color-filled detail.

Siena is such a beautiful town to simply walk around and enjoy all of the sights. Also, the people here are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered in all of Italy!

Flower Wall in Siena

I found this adorable little market with lots of fruit, pictured below. I got a bag of dried fruit to take back with me and it was some of the best I’ve had.

Fruit Market in Siena

While you’re in Siena, I highly recommend stopping at Bar Quattro Cantoni for lunch. It’s an adorable cafe with the friendliest staff, and not to mention freshly baked everything!

I had pumpkin soup (seriously the best I’ve EVER had), a focaccia sandwich with an omelette, and a cappuccino.

Pumpkin Soup
Focaccia Sandwich
Cappuccino

Another Italian town, another outstanding dome.

Duomo Siena

Now on to the main piazza of the city, Il Campo. This is where the horse races take place every summer, and also where the James Bond movie was taped. I loved being in this area and seeing the market they had set up for a casual Saturday.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Rach

The Ultimate Packing Guide for the Student Abroad

PACKING:

First off, let’s talk packing. It’s important that you are prepared for your time abroad in case some of your personal necessities can’t be found in a foreign country.

First Aid Kit:

You know yourself best, so make sure you come prepared with the medicines that you know work for you. Your body is more susceptible to becoming sick while you’re traveling, so it’s best to be over-prepared.

Some things to be prepared for:

Common Cold (Runny nose, sore throat, cough)

 -Blisters

 -Digestion Issues

 -Pain Relief (Headaches, sore muscles, other aches)

Suitcase Organizers

I ordered these cute cubicle organizers from Amazon, and they really made a difference with my packing. Also, it’s much easier to unpack to see what you brought! Packing Cubes

Packing Cubes

*Tip: If you’re very careful to organize what you put into each cube, you can just pull them out of your suitcase whenever you arrive to your final destination and stack them wherever you please. They serve as portable drawers!

-Pants/Shorts/Skirts/Dresses

 -Shirts for warmer weather

 -Shirts for cooler weather

 -Work-out clothes: It’s important to still maintain your physical goals while you are traveling! Even if it’s just ten minutes every day, you’ll thank yourself for prioritizing your health.

 *Tip: It’s best to fold your clothing articles in half first, then roll them up. This will lessen the likeliness of wrinkles during travel, allow you to pack much more, and in the end – save you lots of room for more things to pack!

How to Roll Your Clothes

-Undergarments

 Depending on the time of year you study abroad or your location specifically, be sure to pack undergarments accordingly (thin socks, thick socks, long-johns, etc.).

*Tip: I recommend packing at least 12 pairs of socks with you. This will help you in the long run in terms of laundry and travel, because with this many pairs with you, you won’t have to do laundry often and you’ll always have a few pairs to spare.

 -Toiletries

 If you are going for an entire semester or longer, then it’s okay to go ahead and pack full-size toiletries instead of the travel-size ones. However, I do recommend packing a travel-size kit for your small get-a-ways.

 *Tip: Instead of packing a large bottle of body wash, I recommend packing a couple of body wash soap bars. It’ll save you lots of room and weight!

*Tip: Buy a plastic soap box from Walgreens, Wal-Mart, CVS or Target before your departure. This way, you’ll have something to store your wet soap bar in (they are available in the dollar and travel section).

*Tip: In your travel kit, pack a shampoo bottle, a conditioner bottle, your soap box with a soap bar, face wash, mini deodorant, and a small toothbrush (with a cover for hygiene reasons) and toothpaste. Once again, at Walgreens, Wal-Mart, CVS or Target, you can find a zip-up bag with empty travel-size bottles that you can fill with your own preferences. These are TSA approved (under 3 ounces) and will go through any airport security at that size.

-Accessories

 *Tip: I recommend packing a scarf to wear on the plane. It’ll help you feel more comfortable, provide more of a pillow for you to sleep on, and more warmth.

 -Shoes

 *Tip: Pack a pair of flip flops that you can wear in the shower – it’s better to be safe than sorry! If you take weekend trips to stay in a hostel, Airbnb or hotel, make sure to take them with you too, then!

Suitcase(s)

 -Main suitcase: I ordered my main suitcase from Amazon, linked here: IT Luggage. It’s super lightweight (until you pack it, of course). IT Luggage brand is known for providing one of the lightest suitcase lines (this helps to save you a few pounds for other things).

*Tip: I wish I had ordered a suitcase with four wheels on the bottom instead of just two, that way I would be able to stand it up and push it while it is positioned upright.

-Carry-on:

 On the way from the U.S. to Italy, I originally brought a duffel bag to carry on my shoulder (big mistake, I knew better!) and a backpack!

Since I’ve been here, I ended up needing to buy a carry-on bag that I could roll for my weekend trips. This time, I bought one with four wheels and it has saved me a lot of pain! I just bought it from a small, city market here in Rome. If you decide to order one before your trip, I highly recommend ordering an IT from Amazon once again.

*Side note: Here’s why I don’t suggest taking a duffel bag that you carry on your shoulder as your primary carry-on. Picture this: You’re in a crowded airport, specifically Terminal 1. This is your connecting flight. Your next flight leaves out of Terminal 3. This is me: I’m trying to keep my calm amidst pushing through crowds to switch terminals. I have a HEAVY carry-on DIGGING into my shoulder. As I walk through the crowd, my body misses bumping into strangers, but my bag does not. Therefore, I am not only in pain, but I am receiving rude looks from strangers who I’ll never see again that think I am rude for bumping into them (but it’s impossible to miss bumping into people with a large duffel bag). No, I’m not rude, just unprepared by bringing a shoulder bag for a carry-on. Another picture: Me, gracefully navigating through a crowded airport with a small carry-on that rolls. Better yet, I can push it in front of me and float through the crowds. Now you see why I don’t suggest a shoulder bag?

*Tip: Because most international flights are overnight, I would pack a change of clothes! Being on a plane for 10+ hours already makes you feel gross enough, so being able to change into something fresh will make you feel a little better once you arrive to your destination.

 -Backpack: I brought one that has a protective sleeve for your laptop, which I highly recommend. I got this backpack from Dillard’s, which has RFID protectors in it as well. In Europe, people are known to scan your information off of you. Make sure to buy a purse or wallet with RFID slots or at least have your ID, passport and credit cards well-covered, that way no one can scan your personal information from you.

-Wallet: I found this well-priced wallet on Amazon. It comes in a variety of colors and helps you to stay organized. It has a spot for your ID card, 3 credit card slots, a place for a pen and a checkbook, a zippered-pocket and an optional loop to use as a key-chain. Travel Wallet

-Passport Cover: I recommend that everyone have a passport cover. In case your passport becomes buried in your bag, it will be much easier to spot with a colored cover on it. In addition, passport covers have small slots inside of them too, which are great for holding your plane tickets or other various things you may want to store in there. I bought this passport cover because I loved the water color within it! Not only that, but it’s also a global map. Anthropologie Water Color Passport Cover

Anthropologie Water Color Passport Cover

*Tip: Protect your passport with your LIFE! If it is stolen abroad, it is a huge mess to fix. Passports are sold for up to $10,000 in the black market. Make a copy of your passport to keep in your wallet or your purse, then keep your passport secure at your home in your final destination.

Purse (for the ladies): I recommend taking a small purse, specifically a cross-body. It’s important to have a purse that zips to prevent the possibility of stealing. On the way to my destination, I kept my purse tucked inside of my backpack since you are typically only allowed one carry-on and one personal item for your flight.

*Tip: If you decide to carry a tote-styled purse that zips, when you carry it, make sure the actual zipper is closest to you (right under your armpit). If the zipper is to the back, pick-pocketers are skilled enough to unzip it while it is on you!

*Tip #2: If you carry a cross-body purse, always carry it to where it lays in front of you. If you let it hang to the back of you, you’re giving thieves another chance to pick-pocket you!

-Journal: There are a lot of useful things a journal will provide you, I’ll touch on this more later!

*Back-up Cell Phone: Even if it’s just a little flip phone that you can make calls on, it’s best to come prepared with a back-up in case something happens to your primary phone.

*Portable Charger: In case you are out and about using your phone to navigate a new place, make sure you have a portable charger handy, so you can make it back home safely!

Linked below is my portable charger by Mophie. I like it because it is super thin and barely takes up any room!

Mophie Portable Charger

*Camera: This one is more optional, but you are travelling so I say you MUST have one! It doesn’t need to be a fancy DSLR, but make sure it’s one you are comfortable working.

*Tip: Take a backup memory card.

EXPENSES:

 -Currency: Wherever you are going, I suggest always keeping that currency on you in cash-form. Each time you use your debit card to make a withdrawal, there will be the exchange rate, the withdrawal fee, and depending on your bank, an international fee. Because of these fees, I suggest taking out a larger amount at least 2x a month, then keeping it in a safe spot at home and keeping a small amount on you for daily things such as metro tickets or the urge to get a coffee or gelato. In the end, taking out larger amounts will save you from losing money to the withdrawal and international fees.

*Tip: Have a debit card and a credit card with you. I suggest leaving the credit card at home just in case you lose your wallet, or it was stolen, that way you would have a back-up. This will help you dodge the stress of having to order a new card!

*Tip #2: Check with your bank before you begin your international travel to see if there are international fees each time you make a charge. If that’s the case, I suggest applying for a Capital One card! There are no hidden international fees.

*Tip #3: Because you’re living abroad, I suggest making a budget plan before you leave. Make a goal not to spend over X amount for food, basic house necessities, etc. each week.

*Tip #4: Before you leave, make sure to tell your bank the dates of your travels and which countries you will be in. It would be awful to have your card locked while you are traveling just because you forgot to alert your bank you will be in a different place!

JOURNALING:

 -Everyday Purpose: It would be smart of you to leave your journal next to your bed or somewhere that will remind you to write in it every day. While you’re traveling, it’s important to document what each day consists of. Don’t forget to include detail about the exhibit you saw, what your favorite part was, and how you felt when you saw it!

-Budget Journal: Each week, I categorize my budget journal into three main sections:

Food: Before you leave, you should think about how many times you normally eat out a week, and how many times you cook a meal and stay in. Whenever you’re in a new city, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and only want to eat out. Also, think about how much you typically spend on groceries per week. Now, try to sensibly translate your usual habits to what your habits will become abroad. Set aside a number of times you’ll allow yourself to eat out a week (including coffee and ice cream), and how much you’ll spend on groceries. At the end of the first week, add your numbers up and see how that compares to what you had in mind. From there, you may need to make some minor changes.

Travel: This includes anything from taxi rides, metro tickets or plane/train tickets for weekend travels.

Anonymous: You can write down fees you don’t expect here (cover charges, coat checks, souvenirs, post card fees, etc.).

I hope these tips will help you to enjoy your time abroad with ease! Please let me know what you think.

 Thank you for reading,

 -Rach

March Goals

I’m feeling optimistic about this month, but mainly because spring is coming near and I can wear bright-colored embroidered things again.

For the month of March, here is what I’m focusing on:

(1) Listen to podcasts.

I’ve started making a list of podcasts regarding health, career and happiness. As I begin to find ones I really like, I’ll be sharing them on my instagram (@allthe_rach). As much as I love to listen to music, I want to learn new things via podcasts. I plan to listen to them as I’m getting ready in the morning and as I am driving place to place.

(2) Food Journaling.

I know spring break is this month, but that’s not why I want to journal what I am eating. I want to start making a difference in my health and that starts with my inner being. When I look at my list of things I’ve eaten at the end of the day, I want to know I’m making the right choices and benefitting myself.  On top of that, I’m going to pay attention to foods that don’t always agree with me and make note of that. Or, just food in general that makes me feel bloated or sluggish.

(3) Love what you have.

Sure there are so many things we want, but we need to focus on loving what we already have.

(4) Don’t waste your energy on unimportant things.

I catch myself wasting worry on the smallest things. Instead, I’m going to focus on what really matters this month.

What are some of your goals for this month? Comment below and let me know!

Thanks for reading,

Rach

February Picks

During the month of February, a few things really stood out to me and I’m sharing them down below.

With spring coming around, you’ll be sure to have the cutest shoes if you check out the ones I’ve linked! Also, hair health is something I’ve always really enjoyed focusing on. I’ve linked some hair vitamins to help your hair have the perfect shine after a harsh, dry winter that usually results in dull hair.

*1) Hair Vitamins

*2) Smith & Cult Nail Polish – How cute is this color for transitioning into spring?

*3) See by Chloe Spring Purse

*4) Sam Edelman Platform Espadrilles

*5) Steve Madden Cheetah Slip-On

*6) Tory Burch Sandals

*7) Anthropologie Throw Blanket – I love this throw. It can be placed in so many areas around your home. It’s the perfect neutral with a fun flare.

-Rach

Florence, a.k.a Firenze

Italy has so much to offer and I’ve made it a goal to travel around this country as much as possible. I’ve been wanting to go to Tuscany, and Florence was the perfect start.

I took a train from Rome to Florence and it was only an hour and a half. You could easily make a day trip out of Florence, but we stayed one night at the cutest Airbnb. When I walked out of our door, this is what I saw!

We started at Palazzo Vecchio, where you can see many beautiful, historic statues and lots of fun places to shop.

Palazzo Vecchio
Statue of David

The more I explore Italy, I realize every well-known town has a famous dome. This one by far is my FAVORITE! The detail of this building is absolutely incredible.

Florence Cathedral
Florence Cathedral Pt. 2
Isn’t this detail stunning?

The city of Florence is easy to navigate and all of the major things to see seem to be fairly close together.

Next, we went to the beautiful bridge, Ponte Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio

As much as I want to live in Venice one day, I wouldn’t be opposed to living in one of these colorful apartments along the river.

Apartments along Ponte Vecchio
Look at all of the eye-catching colors!

My roommates and I stopped at a cute little cafe, known as Corona’s Cafe, for hot chocolate and a snack. I had fruit tarts and they were so cute and yummy!

Fruit tarts from Corona’s Cafe

For dinner, we ate at Al Acqua 2, which I highly recommend. Our waitress was so friendly and so sweet to make suggestions (in English!).

I had maccheroni alla vodka e mozzarella. (The closest thing I’ve had to mac n cheese since I’ve been in Italy). It was so good and I loved the vodka sauce!

Dinner at Al Acqua 2

I have a hard time saying no to dessert (and luckily so does my roomie), so we opted to split the dessert sampler. It had tiramisu, dark chocolate cake, lemon tart and strawberry cheesecake. It was the perfect way to end a dinner!

Dessert Sampler at Al Acqua 2

Saturday morning, we went on a food tasting tour with “Italy On A Budget Tour.” (Linked below) They do everything from olive oils (you would be shocked how many kinds there are) food (such as cheese, bruschetta and salami) and wines. It was a fun way to meet other people who are traveling and experience a little more of Italy!

Can you tell I might’ve snacked prior to taking this picture?

https://www.italyonabudgettours.com/en_GB

Lastly, if you miss home, I highly recommend going to the American Diner. It has a 1950s theme and all of the waiters are wearing roller skates. It’s so cute and you must go!

Thank you for reading,

Rach

The Perfect Morning Routine

If you’re not a morning person, this post is for you!

I have put together a few tips and tricks for you to enjoy your mornings a little more – even if you don’t think you can ever be a morning person, adding a few of these steps to your day before you leave for the day will make you feel MUCH more productive.

(1) Drink a warm/hot cup of water with lemon in it BEFORE you have your coffee.

Yeah yeah, I used to go first for the coffee, too. But since I’ve started drinking water with lemon, I’ve noticed a couple of things: (1) I digest my food better throughout the day, (2) Water with lemon helps me to feel fresh and rehydrated, (3) I feel more awake.

Water is the most important thing you can give your body, so might as well start the day with it! It’s not really anything you have to slow down for either, you can just carry your bottle around with you while you’re getting ready.

Shop my favorite water bottle here: Corkcicle “Unicorn Magic” Canteen – 16 oz. I love the sparkly white!

(2) Whether you’re a coffee or a tea drinker, make the time to drink it with a healthy BREAKFAST! We all know how important it is to start your day with breakfast, and how it helps you perform better with whatever tasks are at hand. Breakfast doesn’t have to be hard either! My go-to lately has been whole-fat or Greek Yogurt mixed with granola or cereal, topped with banana slices or strawberries. Takes no time and you can even make it the night before to enjoy in the morning!

(3) Make your bed! There’s a lot of studies out that say either “Why It’s Better to Not Make Your Bed” or something like “Why You Should Make Your Bed.” I don’t know what to believe, but I do know a room looks much neater when your bed is made, and you feel much more productive.

(4) Journal at least three things you’re grateful for. This is a great way to start the day with positive thoughts. It can be ANYTHING, as long as you’re acknowledging the fact that you’re happy to have whatever it is in your life.

(5) One more thing to write down – anywhere from 1 – 3 tasks that are PRIORITIES for that day. If it’s just one that’s great, at least you’ve accomplished something! I don’t recommend doing more than three because then that can be overwhelming. Just stick to the plan and get it done!

Thanks for reading,

-Rach