Amazon Prime Picks

I’m a huuuuuuge Amazon fan. Because there’s nothing like semi-instant gratification for a Gen X-er as well as options, options, options. And when they probably take over everything and the Earth is ruled by Amazon Echos gone rogue, I may regret these purchases but until then I will keep hitting Proceed to Checkout and demanding nothing less than 2-day shipping. Check out some of my favorite recent Amazon Prime purchases:

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The Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution, 1.69 Fl Oz

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Del Mex Classic Mexican Falsa Blanket Vintage Style (Fiesta)

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Jelly Comb 2.4G Slim Wireless Mouse with Nano Receiver Less Noise, Portable Mobile Optical Mice for Notebook, PC, Laptop, Computer, Macbook – White and Gold

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Mkono Macrame Plant Hanger Hanging Planter Wall Art

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Waist Bag Women Rivets Leather Chest Belt Fanny Pack Bags Casual Handbag Red Black

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LEISURE ARTS Cafà Letter Board | Includes 145 Black Letters, Numbers and Symbols

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Carvapet Luxury Soft Faux Sheepskin Chair Cover Seat Cushion Pad Plush Fur Area Rugs for Bedroom, 2ft x 3ft, White

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Regal Home Collections English Manor Lacey Pinsonic Quilt (Full/Queen) – Assorted Colors (White)

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Leuchtturm1917 Medium Size Hardcover A5 Notebook – Plain Pages – Red

 

ps. I don’t make money off these links or anything! Doin’ it just because I’m lazy and love convenience!

Thrift Diary #2

I’m still working on finding my favorite thrift places in Columbus but I recently went to Volunteers of America on Indianola and found some goods. Check it out for inspo for what to look for on your next trip:

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This little pot/container/thing was made in Japan in 1978 and I just threw a plant in it! ($0.99)

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An ASOS culotte jumpsuit that works for actually every single occasion this summer. ($1.99)

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A midi black dress that can be belted, dressed up/down and even work-appropriate. ($1.99)

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These shirts are huge at places like Urban Outfitters right now and you can DIY for an eighth of the price with a men’s floral buttondown! ($0.99)

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A black and tan striped midi dress. So 90’s, layer over a white shirt for true Carrie Bradshaw vibes. ($1.99)

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This beautiful, soft blue chair was $11 (!!!) and though I definitely did not have room for it in my car and had to drive home with it hanging haphazardly out of my trunk, I needed it. Thrift stores are my favorite for vintage furniture that’s high quality and adds so much character to a space.

 

Happy hunting!!!

Not Your Mother’s Study Abroad Advice

Not Your Mother’s Study Abroad Advice

You’ve heard them say it. “When I was abroad…” Everyone cringes (including the person who said it) and you carry on. The thing about things that everyone claims are life changing, is that they are. Even if you don’t think it will be. Here are the things that mattered to me. That changed my life. That might change yours. And then you can be that guy who talks about their experiences abroad and everyone cringes but you smile anyways.

  • buy things at the grocery store that you don’t recognize
  • order things off the menu even if you dont know what they are
  • ride public transit
  • follow local news
  • volunteer teaching English
  • make friends who aren’t American
  • wear real clothes to class
  • walk!
  • go up to the highest place in every city you go
  • don’t overpack
  • read local authors
  • write it down
  • collect postcards, they’re easy to transport
  • don’t rush
  • do your research before you go to a new city
  • don’t forget to call your mom and dad
  • take pictures
  • sometimes forget to take pictures and just look
  • avoid going to same Irish pub in every single city
  • try McDonald’s in every country
  • don’t forget to sleep
  • take vitamins
  • go to a trivia night, you will know nothing and that’s good
  • sometimes just sit in a cafe and listen
  • open heart, soul, mind
  • tell your professors thank you in their native language
  • study sometimes
  • repeat outfits
  • be alone occasionally
  • take naps
  • if you have the chance, stay with locals
  • know that bad things will inevitably happen and it’s okay
  • dance as much as you can

Thrift Diary #1

Every summer I like to set intentions or I will literally lay on the couch watching Sex and the City for three months. This year one of my intentions is to thrift more and shop fast fashion less. If I’m good, thrift only, shop fast fashion never. When I was in high school I used to thrift all the time and I actually found so many of my favorite unique pieces at random Goodwill stores in bins or shoved into corners. As I’ve gotten older and lazier, I’ve strayed away from thrift stores and opted for the Forever 21s and Zaras of the world. But this summer I want to get back into thrifting and encourage you to as well because there’s like 8 billion benefits to this hobby. Here’s 6 of them:

  • Environmentally Friendly
    • Clothing production uses valuable resources like water, crude oil, nonrenewable energy and creates nasty byproducts like toxic gas. There are harmful pesticides used to grow cotton that wreak havoc on the surrounding ecosystems. New clothes travel long distances to reach the customer, creating huge amounts of transportation-related pollution. By buying second hand, the demand for new clothing that is not sourced decreases and so does your carbon footprint.
  • Socially Just
    • Fast fashion is often (if not always) produced in questionable working conditions in countries that offer cheap labor. Women and children are subjected to extremely low pay, ridiculous work hours, unsafe work conditions and offered no voice for change. When you purchase at a thrift store, this consequence has been absorbed by the original owner and it’s one less item that you will be purchasing from a fast fashion store. (However, wearing a branded item with a unethical company’s logo is still an advertisement for a organization that sucks!)
  • Supports programming
    • Many thrift stores also do a lot of good in their communities by hiring unemployed/disabled/homeless employees with that may not otherwise be able to find a job, donating unsold clothing to homeless shelters or donating funds for humanitarian aid.
  • Dolla dolla bills y’all
    • This one is obvious but you save sooooo much money thrifting and that’s more money to dedicate towards ice cream and disgustingly expensive skincare products because we’re ballin’ on a budget here.
  • Unique pieces
    • You can find some wild shit in a thrift store and typically much higher quality than you would ever see at Forever 21. There are fantastic leather jackets that sat in a chic old woman’s closet for 20 years and are now vintage gold. Brand name pieces from suburban housewives and funky old man shirts that you crop and wear to day drinks. I’ve found designer pieces and sooooo many vintage items that you would pay a billion dollars for at Urban Outfitters.
  • Okay, actually it’s so fun!!!!
    • To me, it’s a game. I might be the only person who in the world who loves National Treasure but in Goodwill I am Nick Cage. In a good way. If there is one.

The hardest part of thrifting is sifting through all the junk to find the diamonds in the rough. Sometimes you might spend an hour or two at a store and only walk out with one item.  It can be hard to know what to look for and where to find things in a giant, overwhelming place that smells like mothballs. (Fun fact: I actually love the smell of mothballs). Here are some pieces I found in my last Goodwill trip for inspiration and to help you get started on your scavenger hunt:

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Aunts, grandmas and moms love stripes and this summer, I do too. There’s five million striped shirts at Goodwill and they’re easy to crop for a more modern and less grandma look.

 

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I always look in the denim section for cool 90s mom jeans like these. I found my favorite pair of vintage Levis at a thrift store and these with the funky hardware detailing are a new found love.

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I look for home goods at thrift stores a lot because the price comparison can be insane. A desk lamp on Amazon costs at least $15 and this one was $2.99!

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Everyone loves a classic band tee and the best way to get the vintage worn look, is to literally buy a vintage worn shirt. You can crop, tuck or tie these and they typically go for around $3.

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I look out for these silver trays or other decorative pieces because I love them for keeping sunglasses, perfume, nail polish, all of the shit that’s been sitting on your desk for the past 3 months, etc.

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I always, always look in the sweater racks even in mid-June because you can find some keepers in here! I found this Ralph Lauren sweater for $4 last week.

 

Happy hunting kids!

What Surprised Me Most

What Surprised Me Most

what surprised me most is how not different we are. i pictured far away places where everything was crazy and odd and strange. but when i got there it wasn’t that crazy or odd or strange. people were still laughing and going to school and wanting to be around more people. buses still roared and kids still threw tantrums and two old ladies still sat in the cafes gossiping. businessmen still strutted in navy suits and babies still waved behind embarrassed moms and middle school boys still made a scene on the metro. everyone was still running towards a thing or studying for a test or looking really hard for something somewhere. there are different food and buildings and sounds and pants and all kind of things i thought there would be but underneath there are still busy, scared, searching humans that might not understand what i mean when i say excuse me but know exactly what i’m saying when i point at gelato.

Ultimate Prague Blog

I’ve lived here for four months. It’s not enough. Not enough time to do and see and eat everything that Prague has to offer, but I tried to get pretty close. I ate cake at every cafe I could… just for you! For this guide to my favorite city on earth. This is the culmination of the adventures of a girl who is probably avoiding her homework and exploring a side street instead. Enjoy.

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Food

Czech food can be… Czech. Not really for the vegetarian or the faint of heart, these people love hunks of meat, cheese and LOTS of potatoes. But in case you don’t, I included some other options as well!

  • The Black Madonna
    • Famous cubist building with amazing cubist cakes
  • Lokal
    • Traditional Czech food
  • Creme de la Creme
    • The best gelato in Prague
  • U Pinkasu
    • Traditional Czech food
    • Good to make reservations beforehand
  • Hany Bany
    • Super cheap and quick food
    • Cash only
  • Bageterie Boulevard
    • Fast food better than you’ve ever had in the US
  • Javarka and Co
    • Indonesian
    • Cash only
  • Pho U Letna
    • Vietnamese/Thai
    • Cash only
  • Chickn
    • American food for when you’re homesick!
    • Fried chicken, fries, mac and cheese

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Cafes

Cafe culture in Prague is my favorite. You can pretty much get coffee and cake almost any time of day with no judgement. My kind of people.

  • Mistral Cafe
    • Light lunch spot/cafe
      • Homemade iced mint tea
  • Mama Cafe
    • Study spot!
    • Interesting food options!
  • Cafe Plecnik
    • Favorite study/hangout spot
    • Iced coffee!
  • Grand Cafe Orient
    • Right above Black Madonna
    • Cash only
  • Cafe Louvre
    • Favorite cafe in Prague

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Things to Do

The best part? Most of these things are free! (or very inexpensive)

  • Tour of Town Hall in Old Town Square
  • Tour Prague Castle
    • Requires tickets
  • Kampa Gallery
    • Modern Czech art
  • Museum of Communism
    • learn more about the crazy history of the Czech Republic and central/eastern Europe
  • Drink a beer at Letna Beer Garden
    • Cheap beer, incredible views
  • Klementinum tour
    • Beautiful baroque library near Charles Bridge
  • Buy souvenirs at Pragtique
    • trendy little store with souvenirs by local designers
  • Explore JZP
    • Hip, trendy area in Prague 3
      • Get off at the green metro line metro stop “Jiriho of Pobrady”
  • Climb Petrin Tower
    • Can buy tickets on the spot (~$4 for students)
  • Get drinks at The Dancing House
    • Take elevator to top floor and buy a drink to sit outside and look over the city
  • Try the hot mulled wine
    • Especially if you’re here in the winter time!
  • See an opera at the Estates Theater
    • Mozart’s Don Giovanni premiered here in 1787

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Places to Go

These are the places you see on the Prague Instagram accounts and those drone travel videos on Facebook. They are not overrated.

  • Old Town Square
    • In the summer it’s filled with tourists but it’s still one of my favorite places because it showcases the eclectic architecture of Prague perfectly.
      • Go inside the Church of Tyn
  • Jewish Cemetery + Museum
    • Tickets required but such a cool experience
  • Wallenstein Palace and Gardens
    • Free!
    • Perfect to picnic + example of incredible Mannerist gardens
  • Charles Bridge
    • Best in the early morning or evening because it’s less crowded
    • Amazing view of Prague!
  • Wenceslas Square
    • Lots of shopping
    • Historical location of most political protests including the Velvet Revolution of 1989
  • Petrin Hill
    • Great views of the city and the location of the Petrin Tower (baby Eiffel tower about 1/6 of the size of the real one) 
  • Vysehrad
    • Super old church (Romanesque) on a hill with an amazing view
  • Prague Castle
    • The current Czech president still works here and there’s a fantastic Gothic cathedral in the center
  • Lennon Wall
    • Iconic, perfect for the classic Prague pic but also an incredible social message symbolizing the strife of the Czech people and that never ending search for peace on earth

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Night Life

Prague actually has a pretty wild nightlife scene. The beer is also way stronger (and better) here so enjoy responsibly!!!

  • Retro
    • Club
    • No cover for girls on Wednesdays!
  • Stalin Containall
    • An outdoor event on weekend nights during the summer by the Metronome where the infamous statue of Stalin used to stand before 1989
    • They sell beer from carts and it’s a true Euro grunge scene
  • Lucerna
    • Club atmosphere
    • Sometimes there are specific shows, check online first for tickets
      • 80s/90s night is my favorite! Usually on Fridays and sometimes Saturdays
      • Worth the 100 crown ticket
  • Bukowskis
    • Free sangria starting at 7 on Tuesdays until they run out
      • I don’t understand how it’s possible but it’s like… completely free, no strings attached. Go.
  • U Sudu
    • Underground cave-like bar
  • Dog Bar
    • Vzorkona is the real name but Americans just call it dog bar because… there are dogs there
    • Very chill and a much more Euro vibe
  • Zazemi
    • An actual Czech student bar
    • Live music most weekends!
  • Duplex
    • Very clubby club
    • 300 crown cover
  • Zizkovoska
    • Super cool grunge student bar where they have trivia once a month and jam sessions on Sunday nights (+ soup!)

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Day Trips

All of these places are between an hour to three hours away from Prague by train! If you have an extra day or two these are fascinating places in the CZ.

  • Plzen
    • About an hour away, this is where the famous Pilsner Urquell is brewed!
    • Take the factory tour, you get a glass of unpasteurized beer from the barrel at the end
  • Karlovy Vary
    • A tiny historical town with shops, restaurants and hiking!
  • Kutna Hora
    • Home of the infamous “bone church” this is a creepy yet amazing little cathedral tucked away in Moravia.
  • Karlstejn Castle
    • The second home of Charles the lV, a Gothic castle featuring a small chapel of religious relics on top.

 

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Other tips:

Czech peoples aren’t rude; they’re just reserved. Don’t expect strangers to return your smile or a cashier to act like he doesn’t despise you. And don’t take it offensively– it’s culture, not wrong or bad; just different.

Take the metro. Prague has one of the easiest public transit systems I’ve seen in Europe. It’s not expensive and is honestly an experience in itself. My favorite for people-watching.

You only need to tip up to 10% in the Czech Republic. Service industry employees make real livable wages here, not like in the US. If you feel like leaving a bigger tip than that you definitely can, but it’s not expected.

Dobry den. That means like “good day” in English and they will say that to you in every store or restaurant you walk into. It’s polite to say it back, even if it’s the only Czech you know!

Most restaurants you can go and choose a table on your own without waiting to be seated, unless there’s a sign that says otherwise. Just saving you from a few embarrassing moments when is everyone staring at you standing by the door and you don’t know why.

Go inside churches! One of my favorite things about Europe is most historic churches are open all day. These are beautiful examples of architecture and art, the perfect place to think/meditate + in the summer they are some of the only buildings that stay cool since they’re made of basically all stone.

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My ultimate advice for Prague? Take it in. Take in the fact that this was a land unvisited by tourists from over 50 years because it was hidden behind the Iron Curtain. Take in the fact that what you’re seeing now is as untouched by the western world as we will ever experience it again in our lifetime. Take in the fact that people live, eat, breathe and work here so respect that; this isn’t Disney World, this is their home. Take in the beer that made me change my mind about beer and the people that made me change my mind about people.

 

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To je Praha.

 

 

A Thank You Note to the World

A Thank You Note to the World

They tell you to never travel alone. Especially if you’re a girl. Especially if you’re only 21 years old. It’s not safe. It’s dangerous. It’s irresponsible.

And they’re probably right.

But what they fail to consider when they tell you that well-meaning advice is that is not an super realistic way to live an entire life. To never be alone. To be so limited by by gender. That I must change my habits because others cannot change theirs. And it is often unavoidable. A flight delayed, a ticket booked for the wrong day, meeting a friend in a different country.

Wo this is not your mom giving advice now: if you have the chance, go it alone every once in a while. It is the most liberating and terrifying feeling in the world. To know not a single other soul in an entire country. To figure things out for yourself, by yourself, with only yourself to revel in the success. To get from one country where you don’t speak the language to another where you don’t speak the language. That is what strength can feel like.

And you will realize how good the world can be.

This is an open thank you to the old woman in the Philly airport who told me she would pray for me, to the friendly man in the Milan metro station who showed me how to buy a  bus ticket, to the nice lady on the airport bus who told me this wasn’t the right stop to get off at, to the airport worker in Columbus who asked me if I was okay because I was tearing up saying goodbye, to the kind woman in Copenhagen who pulled over to help because we looked so confused. There are so many good people.

When you travel solo, you never really travel solo. There are people pulling you up and out and whatever direction you need to go. When they tell you that you shouldn’t be alone they’re right. Because I never felt like I was.

I have never made it anywhere completely by myself. It is with the help of an entire planet.