London Calling

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Two weekends ago I jetted off on my first solo excursion!  Before you get any ideas it was not totally solo, just the travel leg of the journey (baby steps people, baby steps!)  I flew to London to visit my college roommates and besties who are studying there for the semester.  I was very nervous to be flying by myself, on my second big trip of the semester, but this semester is all about growing and becoming more independent, so off I went!  I was maybe a little too psycho about getting to the airport early (my roommates can attest and probably thought I was crazy wanting to leave at 6:30 am for a 10 am flight home) but I would rather have time to figure things out, especially since I was by myself (and had to take the Tube and a 40 minute train to get to the airport), and sit around for an hour than be rushing and stressing about catching my flight! I have just heard too many horror stories! I made both my flights and everything went smoothly so lets move on to the fun stuff!

I arrived Thursday night in London Gatwick airport.  I then had to buy a train ticket to Victoria Station and then get the tube to the stop where my friends live.  While I was in line to buy my train ticket I struck up a conversation with this other American girl who was getting her masters in London.  She was so nice and I was asking her questions and she even gave me an old Oyster card (what you load money onto for the metro system so you don’t have to buy individual tickets) This card is worth 5 pounds and it is just a reminder that there are still good people in this world and that simple kind gestures go a long way for someone.  I started off my trip on a high note would be an understatement.

Thank god I had an international calling plan so I could keep in touch with my friends and update them on my arrival.  They met me outside the Tube station and it was so good to see their faces again! I have missed my roomies so much! We stayed up way to late that night chatting and catching up. We finally headed to bed because we had to get up early the next day for their Friday class.

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Just a little bit off 😉

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My friends’ professor had kindly let me tag along for their class in Trafalgar square and after a few hours of exploring monuments we were let go for the day. We then had a delicious brunch, met up with other friends and made our way to all the touristy spots downtown.  We saw Downton Abbey, Big Ben, the Eye and Buckingham Palace.  We took tons (and I mean tons) of cheesy touristy pics in the phone booths.  We then separated from our friends and headed to Covent Gardens to walk around and meet back up with my roommate.

That night we headed to a local pub for Fish and Chips (with mushy peas…apparently a must with fish and chips haha).  It was such a fun atmosphere and the food was delicious.  Later we went out to a local club where we met up with other friends from Fairfield (seeing a trend…everyone and their mother was in London visiting this weekend!).

After staying out way to late the night before, our 9 AM alarm was not exactly a pleasant noise to hear. But we wanted to make the most of my last day in London.  We got up, got ready, hopped on the tube and made our way to Notting Hill. We had scoured Pinterest for things to do in Notting Hill (anyone else do this??!!) and found this brunch place called Farmgirl that people raved over. Of course there was a wait when we arrived but it wasn’t bad and the food was delicious and very healthy. I ended up getting a Latte (my first coffee in Europe after living here for a month..I am not a huge coffee drinker) and an acai bowl.  After that we made our way through Portabella Market stopping at all the cute stands that were selling wears on the sidewalks.  Also guys! the colorful buildings!! Swoon!! I may or may not have gotten a little two excited and snapped way too many photos.  If I hit it rich someday I would buy a house on this road.  We then decided we wanted to see the Parent Trap house and google mapped our way there. It was just so fun wandering through the beautiful english neighborhoods with houses I don’t even want to know how much they cost 😉

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Parent Trap house!

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I was also very fortunate to have gone on a weekend where the weather was beautiful (the weather gods were on my side!).  It only rained a little friday night and a little saturday morning but it never interfered with our plans!  My friends kept telling me how much a rarity this was.

Another thing that was super weird was hearing english being spoken in public.  After spending a month living in Madrid and hearing spanish everywhere I was not used to it. I found myself saying sorry in Spanish if I accidentally bumped into someone or going to start to ask a waiter for something in Spanish and then realizing I could speak English! I also loved the British accent (who doesn’t?!?) and my friends and I would jokingly speak with an accent as we walked through the streets haha. I could also get used to guys who bump into you on the metro saying “Sorry Love” 😉

Friday night after walking over 12 miles!! (our legs felt like noodles) we met up with some college friends who were visiting London that weekend from Galway and one of my best friends from home who was visiting from Grenada, Spain (I told you there were a ton of people in London!).  We had a nice leisurely dinner chatting and spending time together.  We then headed back to my friends dorm because I had an early flight to catch in the morning!

It was a great weekend visiting my college roommates who I have missed so much and seeing beautiful London.  I saw so much in just 2 short days but definitely have added London to my list to go back and visit because there is just so much to see and do!

Here is the link to my London GoPro video!

Have you ever been to London? What you you say is a must see? I would love to know so I can add it to my list for next time!

xo,
H

 

 

Galentine’s Day

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Valentine’s day is one of those holidays people either love or hate.  I am impartial, however most people say it was a holiday invented by Halmark to sell more cards haha While we will never know for sure, it is a holiday that can make those who are not in relationships feel left out.  While I unfortunately do not have a significant other to spend the day of love with (#singlepringle) I do have some other very special people I will be celebrating with…my gal-pals! Who needs to pout about being alone when you got a whole bunch of besties?!

Last year my friends and I went to see the movie “How to be Single” (how fitting…since we already know exactly how lol), but maybe you could get dressed up and going out to a nice dinner (treat yoself).  A night out at a paint bar could be fun or even a good ole fashion pajama party would be a blast. Honestly some of my favorite memories are the most low key, laid back evening spent laughing with my gals. Whatever it is, anything you do with the special ladies in your life will be great.

I am lucky to have the best friends in the world and am sad to be away from them this semester while I am abroad. However, I am living the freakin dream traipsing around Europe so how could I complain about being alone on the day of love?! I am spending it in Spain!!! (fun fact: I have now spent 2 Valentine’s days in Spain, the other one being my senior year of high school!)  I also have made such great friends with my roommates so I am sure we will come up with fun plans to celebrate the night!

Valentine’s Day is about spreading the love and letting those special to you know how much you love and appreciate them.  So send your bestie a valentine via snail mail, give someone a hug, call home to your parents.  It is also about treating yourself! So buy yourself those flowers and eat that chocolate bar because you deserve it!  This day does not have to just about a boyfriend or significant other, so turn that frown upside down, put on some pink and spread some love.

Leave me a comment below with any fun plans you and your Galentines have! I would love to know what you all are up to.

xoxo,
H⚓️

 

Swiss Bliss

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Last weekend I was fortunate enough to travel to Zurich, Switzerland with my 4 roommates. It was my first trip of the semester and it could not have been more perfect.  One of my roommates here in Spain has a family friend who currently lives in Zurich.  She offered to host all 5 of us girls for the long weekend.  Her home was beautiful, located right on Lake Zurich. The views from our bedroom window were spectacular. We all kept pinching ourselves asking if this was even real life! The family was so hospitable and generous.  She left swiss chocolates on our pillows and greeted us with champagne upon our arrival.  She also cooked Roclet, a traditional swiss meal, that was delicious! All of this generosity was very much appreciated as Switzerland is a very expensive country and being college students every penny counts!

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Our first full day in Switzerland we took the train from Zurich to Lucerne.  I was informed form countless people that if I was going to Switzerland, Lucerne was not to be missed.  We were also told that Mt. Pilatus was a must do.  We ended up buying a package deal that included the train, bus and gondola ride up to the mountain top and then the return back to Zurich.  The entire excursion cost a pretty penny, 95 swiss franks (about the same in Euros), but let me tell you, every penny was worth the experience.

We took the train to Lucerne, where we got off and caught a bus to the town where Mt. Pilatus was located. We then walked about 10 minutes to get to the Gondola station. We got on the Gondola and began our ascend to the top.  We went through 2 little stations where we then got off and got on a huge gondola to get to the tipidy top, the entire ride taking about 30 minutes.  We thought the views at the bottom were spectacular but let me tell you, the views, once we got to the top were breath taking.  The feeling was indescribable, we were literally and figuratively on top of the world.  We spent probably 2 hours up there because the views were just so beautiful and we didn’t want to come back down.  Photos don’t even do these views justice. We ate our packed lunch up there, watching the skiers make their way through the powdery snow.  Once we finished lunch we figured we probably should head back down the mountain so that we could spend a few hours exploring the town of Lucerne.

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In Lucerne we walked around exploring all the little side roads, churches, public squares and covered bridges.  The little town was so picturesque and reminded me of a town from a fairytale.  We kept saying that it looked very much like the town in the movie Frozen. I can’t even tell you how many photos we snapped that day!  Once the sun began to set we took the train back to Zurich, ate dinner and hit the hay as we were very tired from an action packed day.

The next morning we slept in a little, then took the bus into downtown Zurich where we took a free english walking tour of Zurich. It was very interesting learning about the history and culture of Zurich.  After the tour was over we paid to climb to the top the bell tower of one of the churches and got beautiful views of the city! We then grabbed lunch, explored the universities surrounding Zurich, one of them being one of the hardest Universities in the world.  We bought some pastries and then made our way back to the house to eat dinner and head out to the bar for the night. We ended up at an Australian bar (ironic because we were in Switzerland) and had a fun night just hanging out in one of the booths.

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It was a fabulous trip full of amazing and fun memories.  My roommates and I joke that we set the bar a little too high our first trip but each place we go will be unique and special in its own way!  This weekend is what study abroad is all about, and it really made me count my blessings that I am able to experience the world and grow as person through these crazy amazing adventures!

Also here is the link to my Gopro video from our trip in Switzerland! I captured some pretty sick footage of the mountains if I do say so myself haha

If you ever have any questions about the trips I go on feel free to shoot me an email! I would love to help.

Thanks for reading,

xo,
H

Being a Tourist in Madrid

The first two weeks of my semester abroad were spent here in Madrid adjusting to life here and getting into the swing of things.  Because I don’t have classes on friday, that gives us a three day weekend to get in some pretty fun stuff!

We decided to make the most of our two weeks in our new city and inevitably decided to hit all of the touristy spots.  Here is a list of my top 8 you have to visit if you are ever in Madrid!

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1. Puerto de Sol/Plaza Mayor
This is sort of a touristy area with a lot of shops but is a must if you are in Madrid.  It is home to the famous bear statue in Madrid, in addition to the night life hub.  Plaza Mayor is beautiful and San Miguel (a food market) is right in the same vicinity if you are a foody and want to try all different types of typical Spanish food.

 

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2. San Gines
Located in Sol, this Chocolateria is home to the famous churro con chocolate. It is open 24 hours and is the best snack after a night at the discotecas.  Don’t forget to drink the thick chocolate after you finish your churros!

 

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3. Teleferico
This is located more on the outskirts of Madrid but is this cool cable car that you ride for about 10 minutes that gives you beautiful views of the city.  It is located in Casa de Campo, a beautiful park and is also near Parque Oeste, a really cool park that is home to Egyptian temples.

 

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4. Palacio Real
This is where the Royal Family is supposed to live, however now a days is more a tourist attraction. It is a beautiful palace surrounded by beautiful gardens and architecture and it is so much fun to walk around this area or even have a picnic lunch in the garden and just people watch.

 

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5. Gran Via
This is for those who like to shop until they drop.  This is THE place to go shopping in Madrid. This road is home to all of our favorite spanish brands including Mango and Zara. Honestly I could spend days shopping here and still not be able to hit half of the stores. This road has the famous Schweppes sign too. The architecture on this road is to die for, even the McDonalds building is beautiful haha.

 

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6. El Parque Retiro
This beautiful park has countless things to do. It is home to a beautiful lake where you can rent row boats for 6 euros during the week and 8 euros on the weekend. There are also numerous statues and a Crystal Palace that is breathtaking.  You can see tons of Madrillenos working out in this park on the weekends. Definitely a must see if you are in Madrid!

 

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7. El Faro de Moncloa
Located in the neighborhood of Moncloa the only way I can describe it is that it looks like a mini version of the Space needle in Seattle. You take an elevator to the top for only 3 Euros and get breathtaking views of the city.

 

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8. El Rastro
El Rastro is a giant flea/wares market that happens every sunday in the La Latina area of Madrid.  There are hundreds and hundreds of venders selling you name it.  My favorite thing to buy at el Rastro is fun scarves because they are so inexpensive (most cost around 5 euros).  It is so much fun strolling through the street and just browsing the tons of beautiful products.

Also here is a little go pro video I put together of the two weeks we spent here in Madrid. I love watching other people’s go pro videos so let me know if this is something you want to see more of!

If you have any questions feel free to reach out and shoot me an email!

xoxo,
H

Adjusting to life in Madrid

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The first meal out we ate in Plaza Mayor. Delicious Tapas and Sangria! 

The first two weeks here in Madrid sure did fly by! It feel like just yesterday I was arriving.  I was told the first few weeks would pass pretty slowly just due to the fact that you were in a new place, missing home, and trying to figure things out.  Admittedly, the day I arrived I freaked out a little, second guessing if I could actually do this; spend a semester out of my comfort zone, in another country, without my friends or family and I sort of began to wish the months away until I could see them again.  But after that little panic attack I pulled it together and told myself that I had been counting down this day for YEARS and that it was going to be an adventure of a lifetime and not to wish it away.  And I have to say that is the only time I have felt homesick since arriving.

One thing that made my adjustment super smooth was my host mom and my roommates. When I walked into the flat I would be spending the next 4 months in my host mother, Feli, made me feel like I was at home.  She was so sweet and is THE BEST cook! We look forward to her meals every night.  She was so cute and took us to the metro stop so we wouldn’t get lost on our first day of school and gave us a walking tour of the neighborhood.  My roommates also made the move to Spain so much easier.  When I first arrived and found out that they all went to the same University and were all friends I was a little worried that I would be the loner and wouldn’t be included.  I didn’t want to be the annoying girl who crashed their plans.  But from day one they included me in everything and made me feel as if I were a part of the group. I am honestly soo lucky to have them.  They are such a fun group of girls and we are constantly laughing. I feel as if I can be myself around them and they have accepted me for me. Re-reading this, it honestly sounds so corny, but it’s the truth, I love them! It is mind-blowing how close you can get with people in such a short period of time and I know that with the semester we are going to experience together that they will be my lifelong friends.

Before I left, when I was worried about leaving, my dad kept saying, everything is going to work out for the best.  In my head I would say yeah right, how do you know. But, looking back he was so right.  It was fate to land this home stay, with my amazing host mom and roommates and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I love the new city I will be calling home for the next 4 months! I have figured out the metro system, am slowly getting into the swing of my classes and am in the process of booking fun trips across Europe.

Sorry for the super sappy, touchy feely post! I will try to post a fun one soon with all of the fun touristy things we have done in Madrid over the last 2 weeks! But honestly time passes so fast here and classes obviously come first so I can’t make any promises! haha

xoxo,
H

Pattern Mixing

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In terms of style I am usually a rule follower and don’t experiment too much with fashion. I like the classic looks that never go out of style.  But I decided to break the rules a little and try a little pattern mixing.  I went the easy way and mixed stripes and plaid.  Even though I knew that my outfit was acceptable and “in trend” I felt a little weird and it took some getting used to. I guess I just need to get outside my comfort zone a little more 😉

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Details- Top: gap similar  Vest: Old Navy similar    Headband: Walmart Similar     Boots: bean boots

Thanks for reading!

xoxo,
H

Christmas celebrations with Friends

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Two weeks ago, before the chaos of finals week began my close friends and neighbors threw a Christmas dinner as a last hoorah and to get us in the holiday spirit.  My friends made the most delicious dinner and it was so fun to sit around chatting.  It was so funny because we all felt like adults, bringing appetizers or bottles of wine and getting dressed up for a holiday party! We kept saying how weird it felt haha

Anyway, in addition to the delicious dinner we also did a Yankee swap.  We had a $20 limit.  We were informed of this a little late in the game so the funny thing was that most people ended up going to Marshalls and picking out something! With 13 people we had no repeats even though we all went to the same store!

It was such a fun night and way to end the semester.  It was also very bittersweet because it is one of the last times we will all be together before 4 of us go abroad for the spring semester! As I promised to myself in my last post I brought my camera along and snapped a TON of photos. Thank god for Airdrop to be able to share all the photos with everyone! I am going to miss my friends so much next semester.

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Its moments and photos like these that I will forever cherish as some of my most special college memories!

xoxo,
H