20 Travel Tips: Italy Edition

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was on the trip of a lifetime in Italy! Following the trip last year, I did a recap post featuring photos and brief overview so as not to bore you all with the details. HOWEVER, if you so wish to hear more about the trip, feel free to comment or email, and I will be happy to share! 

In honor of this anniversary, and to spark my own nostalgia, I decided to put together a list of helpful travel tips for first-time travelers to Europe. I’m absolutely by no means an expert on the topic, this is simply what I learned on my first trip abroad. Prior to my trip I did a TON of research on things to know before traveling abroad, so I highly recommend you do as well.

  • Europe is full of history and each city has so much to experience, so don’t stress if you can’t visit absolutely everything you want to see. This is something I had a hard time accepting during my time in Italy especially being the type-A, history nerd that I am. The whole point of going on vacation is to relax (and see the world obviously), but you can’t enjoy yourself if you’re constantly stressing over where you’re going to go next.
  • Piggybacking off of the previous tip, don’t feel like you have to plan everything out, especially meals. At the beginning of each day, Ry and I would pick out the main attractions we wanted to see, and wander around the areas. You never know what you’ll find by simply exploring! We found some of our favorite restaurants on the trip by doing this.
  • Be sure to validate your train tickets prior to boarding. Our primary means of travel from city to city was by train. The vast majority of the time, we bought our tickets at the station; I’d read a few articles prior that stated Tren Italia’s website isn’t always reliable so it’s best to purchase directly at the station.
  • Carry a small, cross-body purse and keep it in front of you — Pick-pocketing is huge in the cities and they know a tourist when they see one.
  • If you’re looking for a quick, early meal, think again! Dinner in Italy generally takes place after 7 pm and is more relaxed than meals in the US.
  • Many churches and other religious sites require ladies to have their legs and shoulders covered when you enter.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to drink for free at the various water fountains sprinkled throughout Rome.
  •  Walk as much as you can and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Watch out for scams such as people putting jewelry on your wrist, helping take your luggage off the train, asking you to sign petitions, etc.
  • Drink the house wine — it’s often cheaper, but still delicious!
  • Learn the language. You don’t have to be fluent (the locals don’t expect you to), but pick up a few general phrases that will help you out along the way. I used the free Duolingo app before I went, and it helped immensely.
  • When in Rome, visit the Trevi Fountain later in the day or at night, it’ll be way less crowded.
  • Don’t eat near a major landmark — the closer you are, the higher the prices.
  • Cappuccinos are a morning only drink in Italy.
  • Instead of a gondola ride, opt to climb to the top of San Marco’s Campanile in Venice for some incredible views.
  • Casa di Giulietta is what Verona is most famous for, but did you know that they have an Arena similar to the Colosseum where concerts and plays still take place? We had an amazing lunch at a cafe near the Arena and it was a stellar experience.
  • Don’t miss out on the opportunity to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence. If you’re asthmatic (like myself) be sure to bring you’re inhaler – that’s 463 steps!
  • It is incredibly easy to get lost in Italy. Download a map (or carry a paper one) so you don’t have to rely on WiFi.
  • The pizza, pasta, wine and gelato are most definitely as good as everyone says they are. Definitely go all in on the food when you’re there; you’ll walk it all off during your visit!
  • Italy is truly a magical place to visit. Make sure you aren’t spending too much time behind the phone/camera, and take it all in!

If you have any questions or need recommendations, leave a comment or feel free to email me! Where are you headed next?

-K

Cheers to 5 Years: 5 Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging

Cheers to 5 Years: 5 Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging

I’m finally back from my two month hiatus! Truth is, it was much-needed for me to take a step back and focus on my full-time job and my mental and physical health, which I will be addressing in an upcoming post. Today I am celebrating something near and dear to my heart: this blog!

5 years ago yesterday, I started on a journey to enhance my writing skills on an outlet that I never knew would become such a passion of mine.  From the very beginning, I knew that this isn’t something I wanted to do for money or likes, but I wanted to do it because it was something that I genuinely enjoyed, and I desperately needed a creative outlet. I always thought, “if one person can read this, and take something away from it that makes them feel as though they’ve connected on some level with me, then I’m doing something right.” One of the beautiful things about blogging is that it’s a way of telling your story without any guidelines or having to stick to anyone else’s voice. The fact that I’ve always been able to be 100% authentic is what truly drives me to continue to blog.

TOP 5 LESSONS LEARNED IN 5 YEARS OF BLOGGING:

  1. There will be times when you need to take a step back from blogging, and that’s okay. Life can be really freaking hard sometimes and you owe it to yourself to keep your health in check. 
  2. Your writing, style and interests will evolve and change as you grow and learn. Let it happen.
  3. Quit comparing yourself to others; you don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses” to be a good blogger.
  4. Stay true to yourself — don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  5. People will be judgmental and have some not-so-nice things to say when you put yourself out there. Don’t let these people stop you from sharing your story and chasing your dreams.

BONUS LESSON

Always have kickass support system behind you. Unfortunately, your blog will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are always those family members and friends that will be there to support your every blog and Instagram post regardless of how avant garde it can be. Make sure you keep these people in your circle forever.

Thank you so much for sharing in this journey with me these last five years, and for the steadfast support. I have some of the best followers ever!

Cheers to many more years!

– K

Keeping it Current

Keeping it Current

Just today I was converted into a huge Madewell fan. I swear their jeans are absolute magic; I have an odd body shape, and I’ve never had jeans fit me properly. But, let me tell you, when I slipped into my first pair of Madewell jeans today, I became a believer.

Recently, I tried my first bath bomb from Lush Cosmetics (this one to be exact) and it’s great for those days when you want a relaxing bath, but don’t necessarily want to be covered in bubbles. My only complaint with this bath bomb in particular is that you have to clean the rose petals out of the bottom of the tub when you’re done.

I’m still obsessing over Justin Timberlake’s opening number of Can’t Stop the Feeling at the Oscars. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the video, I promise you won’t regret it. Plus, if you’re anything like me, the song will get you on your feet and dancing as if you’re one of his backup dancers.

If you don’t already, feel free to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I usually follow back if I’m paying attention to notifications, and I give insights into my personal life on all of them. Tonight in particular, I’m live tweeting the Oscars, and I think I’m really funny so go check it out!

-K.

Travel Essentials

If you follow me on any form of social media, you know that my boyfriend, Ryan, is in the Air Force and has been stationed on the other side of the world for a little over a year. I’m so excited to announce that in just three short months I will be hopping on a plane to visit him for a two week Italian adventure!! This is my first time traveling internationally so I’m super stoked, but also a little nervous, but that’s to be expected. I’m mostly elated to be reunited with my guy; It’s also the first big vacation Ryan and I are taking together in our three years of being together.

Since this is my first international flight, I’ve been doing a ton of research to plan and prepare. I’ve obviously never been on a flight this long and I have the tendency to get bored easily so I need plenty to keep me occupied during my travels. In honor of this exciting news, here is my list of necessities for traveling.

design-4

  • First and foremost, I always take a large tote bag or backpack as my purse carry-on so that I can have my essentials right at my fingertips throughout the flight. I just purchased this one from Longchamp and I absolutely LOVE it. It fits everything I need and then some. It’s even large enough to fit a laptop if you wish to bring it with you for work related trips. The Longchamp could also be used as an overnight bag for quick trips.
  • I also always bring a cross body bag or wristlet for daily use so I’m not lugging around a large tote. My boyfriend bought me this Michael Kors one for Christmas and it goes with just about everything!
  • Your iPad or laptop is essential if you wish to do anything other than watch a movie on a long flight. I intend on using mine for blogging purposes, and I may just download a few games for fun. If you have any fun game recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
  • I, personally, love the feel of having a book in my hand and, therefore, don’t download them onto my iPad. I’m still working on the Outlander series as I’ve mentioned in a number of previous posts, and I’m hoping to be on the 5th book by the time I leave. In fact, I may even bring a back up book between my layover and our train rides during our vacation.
  • Hand Sanitizer is huge for me on a plane. I know it makes me sound like a germaphobe, but I’m always hearing about people being sick after flights. Plus, you never really know how often they clean your area. Piggybacking off of the hand sanitizer, hand lotion is also necessary with how dry the air can get on a plane.
  • Whether or not I’m on a plane, I always have gum or mints on me. On long flights when I don’t have the opportunity to brush my teeth after meals or snacks, it’s nice to freshen up even the least bit with a piece. I also like to chew gum while taking off so my ears don’t pop – this may be an old wives’ tale, but I will never take off without it!
  • Earbuds- to block out screaming children, your snoring neighbor, or to simply listen to music or watch a movie. I will never ever board a plane without mine.
  • I tend to be a bit of a clumsy person so I always have a Tide To Go Pen on me to prevent stains.
  • Chapstick is my best friend – I won’t leave the house without it, let alone the country. My go-to since middle school is Burt’s Bees Original.
  • A new addition to my travel bag is roll-on perfume to freshen up before I land. For this trip, I chose the fragrance Burberry Brit Sheer – it’s a very light, floral, borderline fruity scent.

Not pictured above, but are also super helpful:

  • Advil and/or Dramamine
  • Cell phone (although that’s a given)
  • Chargers
  • Shawl/blanket scarf in case it gets chilly on your flight

What are some of your favorite travel essentials? Also, if you have any tips for me, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!!

-K.

Do’s and Don’ts: Professional Networking Events 


This month I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a few professional networking events, and, fun fact, this was my first professional networking experience outside of a college career fair. All this time, I believed that etiquette was simply common sense; however, there’s always that person that manages to slip up and talk about something wildly inappropriate for such an event.

Being a former sorority woman, I learned the vast majority of my networking skills from recruitment, and I found it helpful to read a few articles prior to the event. While it isn’t necessary to read articles upon articles about how to act and what to discuss at the event, it doesn’t hurt to prepare beforehand. Much of the advice in the articles is common sense, but there are always those people that need to hear it more than once.

Here are my do’s and don’ts for professional networking events.

Do:

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare – you’ll need a brief elevator speech to explain yourself and what you do; ex. “Hello my name is ________ , I’m the (state your position) at (place of work). (Briefly explain what your company does)”. You also may want to research on the company hosting the event or the companies attending so that you can carry on conversation.
  • Dress for success – try on your outfit the night before just to make sure everything fits properly and looks appropriate.
  • Get an ample amount of sleep the night before, especially if it’s a particularly long event, such as sorority recruitment, as you don’t want to be rude by spacing out or nodding off at times.

 

Don’t:

  • Talk about the three b’s – boys, booze, or beliefs – this one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Portray a negative attitude – even if the topic of conversation is something you don’t particularly care for; try to politely steer the conversation in a different direction.
  • Name drop – it’s incredibly rude

What rule of thumb do you stick to at professional networking events?

– K.

 

Is Greek Life For You?

Is Greek Life For You?

It’s nearing that time of year again, time to put away our summer whites, break out our textbooks, and-oh yeah- IT’S SORORITY RECRUITMENT SEASON! While I am super excited to meet new people and expand my sisterhood, I know many women are debating the idea of going through recruitment. I get it, recruitment is a daunting experience, and even I was extremely apprehensive when I signed up; However, I truly believe my recruitment and sorority experience has enriched my life in more ways than one.

I, like many of those debating [or completely against] the idea of Greek life, believed that Greek life was exactly as it is negatively portrayed in movies. I did not believe that I would fit in anywhere in a large group of girls with personalities as large as the bows in their hair. When initially approached with the idea of going Greek, I straight up laughed in my future roommate’s face and politely replied “HELL NO!” Yet, here I am today, executive board member and soon-to-be alum, who managed to fall completely in love with her sorority and all it has to offer.

Before you decide if Greek life is for you, you will want to consider the following questions and facts:

The moment I revealed to my Little Diamond sister

What do you want to gain in joining a fraternity/sorority? When considering various chapters to join, it is important to keep in mind that it’s not about how you’ll look with their letters draped across your chest or how cute you’ll look while throwing what you know. Greek life is about making special connections both in and out of your chapter. Are you looking to get involved with a specific philanthropy? Do you want to expand your social network? Do you just want a group of people to go out and have fun with? Choose the chapter that shares the same passions as you.

Can you keep up your grades? Let’s be honest, Greek life is a huge time commitment with mandatory events such as workshops, ritual, socials, etc. With so much going on, it is easy to exercise poor time management and not make your grades a priority; however, this can be extremely detrimental to your membership. According to a study by Hofstra University, 70% of Greeks graduate in five years or less, whereas 50% of non-Greeks graduate in this time frame. Not only that, but Greeks across the nation are responsible for having the highest GPA of all campus organizations.

Do you want to be successful in your future endeavors? Becoming a member of a fraternity or sorority provides one with endless opportunities for personal growth both in social and professional aspects. You only hear about the negatives of Greek life in the media, but do you know about all of the great things Greeks have done? According to USA Today, 85% of Fortune 500 executives were members of a fraternity and the first female senator was the member of a sorority. Furthermore, the leadership opportunities Greek life provides puts members at a social advantage one would not have otherwise; chapter leaders are elected by fellow active members and advisers, members also have the opportunity to participate as leaders in organizations such as National Panhellenic Council, IFC, and Greek Council.

Our National Philanthropy, our pride  joy: Ronald McDonald House Charities
Our National Philanthropy, our pride joy: Ronald McDonald House Charities

Are you willing to put aside time to give back to the community? A study by the New Jersey Institute of Technology shows that Greeks volunteer for approximately 850,000 hours a year and raise over $7 million annually for various philanthropies. Greeks are held accountable for being the largest network of volunteers in the nation (slap that on a headline). We don’t volunteer because we are forced to, we do it because of our passion for both our national philanthropies, and those of other organizations as well.

For more statistics on fraternities and sororities, check out the links to various articles and studies I provided above. If you have any questions about my experience in a sorority or regarding what to expect during recruitment, shoot me an email or comment below!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

-K.