four days in scotland

Since I’m long overdue for posting, I’m writing a couple short posts over the next couple days. First off, a few weekends ago I went on a 4-day trip to Scotland. We flew into northern Scotland (Inverness) and drove out to Aviemore in the highlands where we went for a little hike and fed a pack of reindeer.


Apparently they only have little bottom teeth, so we didn’t have to worry about them biting us. To be honest the reindeer just wanted food, then they ran right away. Still remarkable! That night I went to an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet with a big group of friends; we got uncomfortably full and then went to a pub down the road to hear live Scottish music and drink cider. Successful evening.

The next day, we woke up early to take the bus to Loch Ness for a boat trip to Urquhart Castle. Boarding the boat we were confused why the trip advisors all were being lame and sitting downstairs in the boat.  Quickly the confusion was cleared up, and we learned the hard way just how much water could drench the boat’s upper deck on a windy day.


After exploring the castle, we drove to Glen Coe to fit a hike in before the rain came.



Then we were off to Oban, the cutest resort town I ever did see. Oban was absolutely beautiful during the day, and we certainly enjoyed karaoke night at a local bar. For our last destination in Scotland we drove to Edinburgh, the country’s capital (shown below).


While the weekend was absolutely exhausting (and jam packed with plane, train, and bus rides) it was a blast seeing so much of Scotland. All of the outdoor activities were a refreshing change from life in busy metropolitan London.

adventures of a business student at fashion week

This Tuesday I got to play paparazzi at London Fashion Week, and the whole time I thought to myself, “so this is what it feels like.”

SONY DSCI did street style interviews at the Somerset House and attended a designer’s “presentation” (kind of like a runway show, with a little less runway and a little more standing around). I wrote a blog for Snap Fashion about the Zoë Jordan Presentation… check out the artsy paparazzi pictures I took on my friend Julie’s fancy camera!

SONY DSCThe outfits at Somerset House were insane. Here are my favorite photos of the outing—enjoy!

SONY DSCWho says fashion’s just for the ladies?

IMG_0284Hands down, prettiest candid I’ve ever taken.

SONY DSCVintage Hilfiger? Yes, please.

SONY DSCWait ’till you see the shoes…

SONY DSCThese make the outfit.

SONY DSCPhoto cred to Julie Schultz! x

SONY DSCPharrell’s not the only one with an Arby’s hat!

SONY DSCI just don’t know…

IMG_0271And here’s one to make up for the absurdity of that last picture.


ireland with the gal-pals

On Valentines day, I went to Ireland with 6 girlfriends for the weekend. We witnessed the most aggressive rainstorm I’ve ever seen after arriving in Dublin Friday morning. Logically, after getting drenched while leaving the airport, we took our soaked backpacks and broken umbrellas straight to McDonalds to get some proper nourishment. Don’t judge … Irish McDonalds have mozzarella sticks.

The highlight of Friday was meeting up with our friend who is studying in Dublin and going on the Guinness Storehouse tour. Guinness Storehouse tour was really cool despite my aversion for the beverage itself.

IMG_7076We walked around to learn about the brewing process and where all the ingredients come from, then about the distribution and advertising throughout history. Here is a picture of an awesome exhibit that shows Guinness advertisements throughout the decades.


We received proper instruction on how to taste beers, which I reverse-engineered to learn how to not taste beer when I have to drink it.

IMG_7075My favorite part of the tour was the Willy Wonka-esque elevator ride to the Gravity Bar on the top floor.  To be honest, anyone born in the 20th century who goes to the Guinness Storehouse will most likely feel like they’re in some strange version of the Willy Wonka factory. Anyway, from the Gravity Bar you can see the prettiest panoramic view of Dublin. Also, I am finally certified to pour a perfect pint of Guinness (thank goodness right?)

After Guinness, we ate way too much and explored the Temple Bar area, but turned in early for an exciting day at the Cliffs of Moher on Saturday. After arriving in Galway we met up with our jolly tour guide straight away and headed to County Clare to see the Cliffs of Moher.

IMG_7116The cliffs and castles we saw along this day tour were so intriguing and really different from anything I’ve seen. That evening we went on a pub crawl—Irish people are a good time.



Note to anyone leaving on a trip at 6:00 AM: don’t let anyone talk you into staying out at the casinos until 3:00. Then, don’t stop (for a sit-down breakfast?) in China town on the way home at 4:00. Also, don’t set off the fire alarm at 5:00 with your extra steamy shower (apparently steam can set off some smoke detectors). But DO bring your travel companions Valentine’s Day candy  for the trip so they will excuse your rowdiness.

awkward lessons learned

Below is a list of little things I feel obligated to share with my fellow Americans:

  • A wise man once told me that when drinking juice like this, one must add 4 parts water, 1 part juice. Who knew drinking juice involved reading directions!?


  • This is a bum bag, not a fanny pack. Just sayin’.


  • Good news! The “x” at the end of every text message is a kiss, not a strange texting error on that fancy £11.00 Nokia cell phone.


  • Let it be known that “holiday skin” lotion is actually self-tanning lotion. Failure to read the fine print will result in strange splotchy legs. Not that I know from experience or anything.


  • If you’re working in fashion: what Americans call a sweater, they call a “jumper”, and sneakers are “trainers.”
  • College students in London say they go to university. Just uni for short.
  • Most importantly: don’t expect to find cookie dough at the stores in London. Devastating, isn’t it?

I’m sure there will be more in the future, so consider this list subject to change.

like father like daughter

This weekend I had my first real visitor of the semester! Exciting, I know. Friday morning my dad and I explored Borough Market. From fudge, cookies and coffee to toasted cheeses and hot cider, we definitely did Borough Market right.

Then after a short nap (considered by some a food coma), we went to The Lion King at the Lyceum Theater. The props, set and acting had me completely mesmerized … and the animal costumes were stunning pieces of art. They were all the perfect balance of abstract and literal interpretations of the wild animals. Overall, I’d recommend the show to any age of audience; everyone, from the squealing children to the teary-eyed grandparents, was thoroughly impressed with the production.

Saturday mid-day we met up near the Victoria & Albert Museum, after I recovered from my sugar hangover (this exists trust me). In South Kensington I showed Dad the location of the mom’s London house in the Parent Trap and some of my favorite streets in the area. These streets were filled with all the usual cars you’d see in an average neighborhood, you know … Range Rovers, Mercedes, Rolls Royces, BMWs, etc. Pretty typical. Some of the housekeepers and drivers were probably wondering why a strange man was taking pictures of the houses where they work, but luckily I’m not easily embarrassed!

Me at the Lyceum Theater

When we went into the V&A Museum we decided to stick to one floor because there’s no way to see all of that giant museum in one day. After the museum we had dim sum (a first for me!) and headed to the iconic scene of the Beatles album, Abbey Road.

Dim Sum

Getting a decent photograph crossing Abbey Road is a tricky combination of 1) avoiding getting hit by a car and 2) asserting your dominance over the other tourists trying to pose in the middle of the street. After one failed attempt, we were successful and walked around the area to see Abbey Road Studios and catch a bus and train back to Kings Cross St. Pancras (not Pancreas, as formerly pronounced)

Abbey Road

Abbey Road Studios

Before my dad and I said goodbye we went grocery shopping and ate Indian food … what more could a girl ask for?

no wonder Roma spelled backwards is Amor

Sometimes I hate when people say “oh you HAVE to do this in ____” when I tell them about my travel plans. Too much pressure!

But call me a hypocrite … here’s a list of sites you HAVE to see in Rome.

1. Vatican City – (Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums,  St. Peter’s Basilica) Breathtaking … and incredibly meaningful. We were lucky and we happened to go to Rome on a weekend where the Sistine Chapel is open to the public for free on Sunday morning until 12:30. We woke up at 6:30 to get there and be in line by 8:00…and thank goodness we did!  I’ve never seen such a long “queue” (as the English call it) in my life.



Michelangelo’s frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were the most astonishing artwork I’ll probably ever see. Thank goodness there’s a million pictures online of them, or else I would have been panicking trying to take it all in without taking photos.  After the Sistine Chapel, the group of us 4 girls got split up for almost a half hour as soon as we entered St. Peter’s Square because we were too awestruck to pay attention to staying together.



2. The Colosseum – very worth the €12 entrance fee … you have to go in, trust me. The sophisticated architecture of the Colosseum is actually unbelievable for the time period it was built in. Our tour guide Angela told us that the 80 entrances, and many stairways and hallways were perfectly designed so that almost 100,000 people could exit the structure in less than 10 minutes. Incredible. But what really moved me were Angela’s stories about the “games” that went on in the Colosseum. It was unfathomable that we were standing where thousands of people were executed, fought each other to the death, and hunted more than a million wild animals…all for public entertainment.



3. The Roman Forum –  any history buff’s heaven. It’s pretty crazy to think about the layers and layers of buildings the forum is built upon, and every year more is excavated.



IMG_6653 IMG_6660

4. The Capitol Building – nicknamed “the wedding cake” this breathtaking white building with the Italian flags on either side is unbelievably grand, and the steps are a great place to take a relaxing break from walking all day.


5. Trevi Fountain – warning: here you will witness some very intense public displays of affection. Honestly though, this was one of those places that PDA just didn’t bug me. I understand the romance of the beautiful fountain, so all the couples in love really tugged on the heart strings.  One thing we found is that the Trevi is something you should go see at different times of the day/night. We passed it almost every time we went back to our hostel and it was really pretty in different lighting.  Another warning: just in case Miss Ungermeyer mislead you too … tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain is not for making a wish. One coin means you’ll come back to Rome. Two coins, you’ll come back to Rome and fall in love. Three coins, you’ll be back to Rome, find love, and marry. So…I’m not exactly sure what the 6 coins we each threw in meant, but I’m guessing all those wishes probably aren’t coming true.


6. The Pantheon – another  inconceivable piece of architecture. Built almost 2000 years ago, this temple has the largest un-reinforced concrete dome in the world. One thing I found interesting that I never could see in pictures of the Pantheon is that the middle of the dome has a perfectly sized hole, and on rainy days, the floor has specially placed drains inside to collect the water. Angela showed us how the light from the hole (the “oculus”) spotlights the different deities on certain calendar years at specific times.



7. The Spanish Steps – Walk up the steps and admire the view, but don’t let any sneaky men (calling you beautiful and pushing flowers in your hands) trick you into buying roses. Who would be stupid enough to actually pay €2 for a rose? pshhh…




P.S. For those of you traveling to Rome soon, we stayed in Hostel Mosaic and the location was great. The staff was helpful and friendly. Our rooms were like hotel rooms, basically. The bathrooms were clean (besides when the drunk guy on our floor puked everywhere one night). Wifi (pronounced wee-fee in Italy) everywhere. Free breakfast! Zero complaints here.


P.P.S. Any trip to Rome should be accompanied by large doses of the Lizzie McGuire “When in Rome” soundtrack  and multiple Gladiator references.

eat your way through Rome in 6 easy steps

Step 1: Gelati – plural form used intentionally. Never say no to gelato in Italy…never. For best results, eat twice daily



Step 2: Spaghetti alla Carbonara – spaghetti noodles, cheese (and egg?) sauce, pancetta, and pepper … un classico romano

IMG_6689 2

Step 3: Sandwiches – we waited until our last day to get sandwiches at a little cafe because we were too enticed by the square pizza and endless pasta every other meal. However, I have to say it was one of my favorite meals


Step 4: Macaroons – (I know, I know. not an Italian dessert) I had my first this past weekend, and I’m telling you … try a good macaroon ASAP if you haven’t already



Step 5: Pasta to take home – my single regret from our weekend in Rome is not buying chocolate pasta to bring back to London and make. The man at the market told us to buy some and try it with butter and parmesan … mmm. I was amazed at the variety of pastas they had. Almost every thing imaginable: Colosseum shaped, different vegetable flavors, chocolate dessert pasta, Italian flag colors, penis shaped (for the rowdier gift-givers out there), multi-colored, etc.


Step 6: Go to Miscellanea – located right behind the beautiful and iconic Pantheon, Miscellanea is a little restaurant that’s easy to pass by if you don’t know about the secret menu. After receiving multiple recommendations from friends who’ve been to Rome (thanks guys!), we went to Miscellanea for dinner on Saturday. We walked in and asked for the €15 deal (not on the menu) and what followed was unbelievable. For just €15, we got bruschetta with olive oil and prosciutto, unlimited “litres” of red and white wine, free water (a huge deal in Europe), margherita pizza, two types of pasta each, dessert wine (also known as “sexy wine”, LOL), tiramisu, limoncello shots and a cocktail for the birthday girl. Needless to say we went to bed instead of going out after that 4 hour meal


IMG_6714Not pictured: penne all’ arrabbiata, potato gnocchi and LOTS of square pizza

fit for a queen


Windsor Castle is a must see. I guess I understand why they don’t let visitors take pictures inside… the line to get in the door would probably take half a day. Being such a doll lover in my younger days, the part of the castle I was most tempted to sneak photos of was Queen Mary’s Doll House. If you ever get to visit the castle, do not skip that part of the walk-through. My favorite picture of the day is this image of the dry moat on the castle grounds.


Unfortunately I’ve been too busy to post about the wonderful markets, parks and churches around London I’ve explored…Next week, I promise! For now I’m off to Rome for the weekend – Ciao!

fake it ’till we make it

These first couple days in London have been such an adventure already. Sometimes when we’re out, I wonder how everyone can tell we’re Americans before we say a word, but luckily people have been friendly for the most part. Wednesday we bought phones with UK numbers and Oyster passes to use on the Underground and the buses. Although we’ve felt somewhat clumsy in this new city, we’re slowly picking up on subtle cultural differences like walking on the left side of the sidewalk, being quiet on the Tube and moving to the right when standing on the escalators. A few things I miss from the states already are ice machines (but Mom aren’t you happy I won’t be chewing ice while I’m here?), wearing leggings as pants, and free water at restaurants. Some of the most stunning architecture I’ve seen has been hotels. This is St. Pancras Renaissance in Kings Cross. We passed it on our walk to orientation the first day here.


Today we finalized our class schedules. Two of the classes I’m most excited about are Modern British Novels and the Architecture of London (1600-present day). Some of the highlights of my first couple days abroad were eating delicious Indian food, legally purchasing my first bottle of wine, and exploring Regent’s Park today. Unfortunately it was too dark to take photos at Queen Mary’s Gardens this evening, but even walking through there in the rain was so serene and beautiful. I’m looking forward to having some great pictures after this weekend; tomorrow we have a trip to Windsor Castle and then Sunday is a London Bus Tour. Until next week—cheers.