So you’re leaving for your trip abroad…

Take me with you? Just kidding. But I know you’re probably freaking out so here is a one-stop shop for everything I can think of that you need to know before you leave.

Packing Tips

OMG Idk about money in my new country

OMG I’ve Arrived

OMG I love it here but I want to travel??

OMG Why do I have to leave?

I shall add more as I think of things, or please comment below if you think I am missing anything! Happy travels, friends.

xo, Martha

First picture abroad, lol

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Study Abroad Pep Talk

Dear Soon-to-be Travelers,

Congratulations! You’ve just made the best decision of your life. I know you are scared, and probably confused about what to do and you haven’t even left yet. That’s okay. In fact, that’s normal. Fear is a good thing. Fear is what drives you out of your comfort zone to be adventurous. I want you to be adventurous. I don’t want you to sit in your flat in London and watch your TV shows. (Okay, just kidding sometimes you just have to watch Scandal). You signed up for this experience hoping that in some way, it’ll change you. I promise it will, but you have to work to make that change.

If you talk to the people you already know, there isn’t going to be any change. Make new friends – these will be your new travel buddies for months to come. More importantly, you sometimes need to realize that it’s okay to break off from your group for a little bit. If you really want to go to Spain and you can’t find anyone else to go with, what’s stopping you? Anxiety, sure. But how awesome is it going to feel when you take that trip to the place you’ve wanted to see since you were a kid? (Answer: so awesome).

You may get caught up in the partying and newness of it all, and that’s okay. Just don’t forget why you’re here – don’t let other people dictate your experiences. Do what you want to do. Write everything down. Take pictures of everything – your morning bus route, your apartment…You won’t want to forget it.

Maybe you’ve never left the country. Great – when you come back you are going to realize how big the world is and how much there is to see. Maybe you are leaving friends, family, boyfriends and girlfriends behind. I feel for you, but we all are. Bond with those people that are also missing their family. It’s an unfortunate thing to have in common, but it’ll bring you closer than you think. And you know what? You are foolish to think that you’ll never talk to them over there. Apps like WhatsApp and Viber are key to keeping in touch. The hardest part may not be when you leave. It’s going to be when you get back and realize that your friends and family haven’t seen the things you’ve seen. You’re going to feel sad for them, but you are going to realize that you will just have to share these fulfilling experiences and hope it’ll spark someone else to travel.

3 months, a year will go by and you won’t want to go home. You’ll want to stay. This I know to be true. But, the sooner you get back the sooner you can return and have the next great adventure.

Prepare yourselves travelers: read as much about the country as you can. You are going to forget all of it anyways, but it’ll help ease your nerves. Pack and repack everything. Print out copies of passports and directions to your house or apartment. Make sure you have all of your computer cords and your favorite jeans. It doesn’t hurt to be over-prepared before you leave.

Please remember to be safe and use common sense. You’re going to get lost and you’re going to maybe drink too much at a bar one night and not remember your way home. But, that’s part of the fun isn’t it?

Some last words….Just breathe. It’s an emotional rollercoaster out there but I know you’re all going to do great.

xo, Martha

Ten Reasons I’d Rather be Studying Abroad

I’m about halfway done with my first semester back after spending spring semester in London. Thoughts so far:Ā meh. Where is all the adventure!? WHERE IS THE PIZZA FROM FRANCE?! Ugh.

  1. The freedom to jet off to weekend trips, literally. That easyjet flight to Paris?Ā I mean it’s not like I really have anything better to do
  2. I’m pretty free tonight, do you want to go catch [insert musical such as Les Miserables, Once, etc.]?
  3. What’s that? The science museum is hosting a late night event? I’m in.
  4. lolĀ what is studying?!?!! I just spend all of my time on the tube.
  5. I feel like going to a pub tonight. That’s totally cool because overĀ in [European country] I’m of legal age!
  6. Oh the food. The French pizza. The Spanish wine. šŸ˜¦
  7. The Voice UK. Yeah I’m serious. That stuff was great.
  8. I liked spending my money on experiences, and now I have to pay “rent” and “electricity.” Dumb.
  9. All the beautiful people. Seriously, I took pictures of hot Danish men for an afternoon.
  10. The rich culture that all of these countries have. Westminster Abbey was founded in the 10th century. Minnesota was the 32nd state in the union! It’s a weird difference.

I really do miss London and studying abroad. But, one thing that makes it just a little bit better is knowing that I will be back some day. Happy travels to all of you folks currently still abroad, and for those of who who have just returned – I feel ya.

xo, Martha

(college is on the right, studying abroad is on the left)
2014-04-28 12.40.25

Awesome & Amazing Things To Do in London (Part 2)

I’m back! This is the second installment of things I think are worth checking out for your stay in London. Whether you have a week, day, month, year…you can’t go wrong.

  1. Late nights at the museums. This was one of my favorite things to do. At one point or another, all of the great museums in London stay open until 9 pm or 10 pm for you to browse. My friend and I discovered that the Science Museum was open late one Wednesday, and it was excellent. They had a silent disco (think everyone wearing headphones and grooving to their own beat), tons of cool crafts – we did some screen printing and built a lantern. Look over at Time Out to see when your favorite museum is open late! Ā (Tube stop: South Kensington)

    National Portrait Gallery (image via google)

  2. Attend a red carpet premiere. London is like the LA for film screenings. I know that while I was there, they had red carpet premieres forĀ Dallas Buyers Club, The Monuments Men,Ā andĀ The Muppets Movie. I made a point to go to the Monuments Men premiere and I SAW GEORGE CLOONEY. IT WAS SO AWESOME. I’m from Minnesota (obviously) so we don’t really get a lot of big movie premieres, so it was super cool to see like an actual red carpet. I usually just checked the daily papers (Metro & Evening Standards) for when premieres were. (Tube stop: Leicester Square)
  3. Go to church. I mean, I’m not super religious, but London has amazing churches. Westminster Abbey (where Will and Kate got married) and St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is interesting to see Ā the architecture of the churches because Westminster Abbey is literally from the Gothic ages. Book a tour, or go to the Evensong mass for free! Disclaimer: I never actually went to Westminster Abbey but it is a regret of mine. (Tube stop: Westminster or St. Paul)

    image via google

  4. Check out a show at Royal Albert Hall.Ā I happened upon tickets to go see “Pirates of the Caribbean” at Royal Albert Hall. It wasn’t just any show, it was a live orchestra playing the score as the movie was playing. It was seriously so awesome. The seats I got were kind of cheap, but it doesn’t matter because the whole theater is circular, so there really isn’t a bad seat. Check out upcoming events here! (Tube stop: Ā South Kensington or High Street Kensington)
  5. See One Direction in concert.Ā Kidding. (But not really).
  6. Get lost. Take the tube or bus to a random spot and hop off and just explore. Put away the phones and only take them out when you are trying to get back home. London is HUGE, there is no way you can take it all in during a week. But, you can make it a little bit smaller by exploring on your own. Go in a cute coffee shop or boutique, you’ll be glad you did! And really, what is ANY adventure without getting a little lost? šŸ™‚ If you need any help finding places to be lost check out the Angel/Islington area or down in Greenwich. (Tube stops: YOUR CHOICE!)
Delicious donuts found while getting lost.

Delicious donuts found while getting lost.

Once again, happy travels! I’m happy to hear of anything else you guys think should be on my list.

xo, Martha

What to do In London If You Only Have a Week! (Part 1)

This post was inspired by a conversation with one of my friends. When she went abroad for a few weeks, she only spent A DAY in London. LOL That is just wrong and actually not possible if you want to really experience the city and all the great things it has to offer. Here is a list of the top things you must absolutely do if you are in London for a week, a month, a year, whatever.

  1. GO SEE A SHOW.Ā I’ve never actually been to New York City, but I can imagine its theatre is great. London’s is unparalleled. I went to musicals and just regular old plays and was blown away by all except one (lol long story). There are a lot of ways to get discounted tickets so you aren’t breaking the bank. My best advice is to just pay attention, and probably book in advance. Les Miserables has been running for NINETEEN YEARS and on a random Thursday night it was almost sold out. ???? I don’t get it either. Check out TKTS, located in Leicester Square for decent and reputable discounts. Below is the marquee for Once, a show I adored. Also, when I went Arthur Darvill was the lead. šŸ™‚once
  2. Take a walk alongĀ the Thames. The Thames (pronounced TEMS) is the main river going through London. It hosts the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race. And you should walk down the ThamesĀ because London has a lot of cool and historical bridges. The Millennium bridge is the one from Harry Potter when the dementors go crazy and start attacking Muggles. You can see the Tower bridge which is often confused as the London bridge (fun fact). Either way, it’s a great way to see the city and the South Bank of the river was one of my favorite places to explore. You can also hear some good street artists.
  3. Rent a Boris Bike and bike through a park. I don’t know what the actual names of these bikes are, but there are a whole bunch of them throughout the city. A lot of the parks in London (Hyde Park, Regents’ Park) have great biking trails and lakes. Especially if it is a nice summer day, you can’t really go wrong. Read how the bikes work here. Also, check out a list of London’s parks!
  4. {HP FANS ONLY} Alright, so if you love Harry Potter, you have to go to the studio tour.Ā Make a day out of it, it’s seriously amazing and you cannot go wrong. It’s a little pricey, but totally worth it. YOU GET TO SEE PROPS AND MINI VERSIONS OF HOGWARTS and it just made my childhood come full circle. Read about it here.

    So majestic.

    So majestic.

  5. Check out Brick Lane/Shoreditch. Brick Lane is like the Indian district of London. You can bagels for less than a pound! If you are also into it, they apparently have amazing curry. Shoreditch is the super hipster part of London. It’s great for walking around because they have street art (think the elephant/octopus). I spent a great day just hanging out and walking around in these neighborhoods.
  6. Walk up Primrose Hill or Hampstead Heath. This is a cheaper option of getting an amazing panoramic view of London instead of going up the London eye or The Shard. Plus, you get to experience absolutely beautiful parks and ritzy locations. Below is the view of London on Primrose Hill. Hampstead Heath was equally as great!Ā primrose

I will stop the list at seven for now, and put out seven more next week! In the mean time, do any of my lovely readers have suggestions for what to do in London? I’d love to see if we had different or similar experiences!

Have a great weekend, y’all.

xo, Martha

Martha’s Guide to Modern Art

As you may or may not be aware, London is filled with museums that are free to the public. To be honest, I didn’t really take advantage of this perk as much as I should have. Oops. At these museums, you can see exhibits on the history of Italian fashion (currently at the Victoria & Albert Museum) or see one of the rock sculptures from Easter Island (The British Museum). Oh, and there’s also a lot of old and super famous paintings. BUT, if you want to challenge your mind a little bit, I recommend going to the Tate Museum of Modern Art…or any modern art museum. People tend to freak out over modern or contemporary art… but they really shouldn’t. Here is my guide to sort-of-maybe-kinda understanding the weird art.

  1. Modern art: art from the 1860s-1970s (think Picasso, Dali, Warhol)
  2. Contemporary art:Ā derived from postmodern art. Contemporary is art that has been produced most recently. These pieces can be mixed media, installation, orĀ conceptual art.

Alright, so now we have the definitions down. I’ll show you an example of each. (Pictures are my own)

Photo Mar 08, 2 21 32 PM

 

Above is an example ofĀ MODERN art. Picasso is the artist. Below is an example ofĀ CONTEMPORARY art. This is a sculpture from 2006 by Thomas Hirschorn.

weird

Right, okay. I know what you are thinking. Why in the hell would you ever go to an art museum to see this sculpture. Unless you are a modern/contemporary art buff, you probably do not have any desire to see this. But, I like to think of modern/contemporary art as a challenge. It challenges me to think outside of the box, and kind of understand where the artist was coming from. What was happening in the artist’s life that inspired them? For the more modern stuff, like Picasso, I usually try to figure out what was happening at that time in the world. Was there a war going on? Where was the artist at this time? What are other pieces the artist has created?

By no means am I an expert. But I do enjoy going to art museums and looking at all the creations. Challenge yourself to do the same and get outside your comfort zone. Try to examine the piece at all angles. If the piece provokes thought in ANY way, then I think the artist has done their job well. Even if you don’t understand it, and granted there are many pieces you WON’T understand, that’s okay! Art is meant to be discussed and questioned. If you can discuss art, everyone will think you are super smart. šŸ™‚

Go forth, fellow museum goers.

xo, Martha

 

Travel Makeup Bag

Alright, so you’re jaunting off to Paris on your spring break abroad. Problem is, if you’re flying on a plane you only get 100 mL of liquid. I’m going to share some of my tips for looking cute (if you’re into that sort of thing) with limited space to store everything. readysetgo:

That’s not a lot of space for your liquids. So, to combat this we are going to multitask with some 2-in-1 products. But first, the essentials. You really can’t get by without lotion for your face and toothpaste, but there are other ways to cut the corners.

IntroducingĀ Olay All Day Complete Moisutrizer….WITH SPF 15!Ā This is a cult favorite, so chances are you have heard about it before. This works as a great moisturizer to make sure your face doesn’t dry out and it also acts as a sunscreen. I’m kind of obsessed with making sure my skin is protected with SPF and I think this does a pretty great job. You can also use it at night for a little extra moisture as well. It’s only$5.99, definitely affordable. Find it here. (A little goes a long way so a travel size would get the job done)

 

Olay Fresh Effects BB Cream. So a BB cream is kind of like an all in one product. I use it to cover up some uneven parts of my skin and it also conceals blemishes pretty well. I apply it all over my face, and I think it gives me a nice glow. Make sure to get the right shade for your skin tone! Another bonus, it also has SPF. šŸ™‚ Find it over here. It ranges in price from $12-$14 depending on where you go. Unfortunately it does not come in a travel size, but it’s a liberty you’ll have to take.

 

Nars “The Multiple”Ā So this actually isn’t a liquid, what a bonus. The Multiple is another cult favorite. It acts as a cream blush, you can use it on your lips for a little color and it just adds glow in general. You can also use it as eyeshadow! There are tons of shades available so if peachy pink shimmer isn’t your jam, then that’s just fine. It also blends SUPER well and is fairly lightweight so when you are gallivanting across foreign countries it will hold up. It’s a bit more expensive at $39, but again, I wouldn’t include it on this list if I didn’t think it was worth it. Find it here.

 

Organix Argan Oil. I use this right after I shower on my hair to add a little bit of texture, and I also use it on second day hair to tame flyaways. I have curls and I don’t brush them, so I find dry shampoo kind of hard to work with. It’s also just kind of weird. I like it a lot, and apparently oil on your hair can only do good things. They definitely have travel size quantities, so look for that. It’s about $5-$8 depending on where you go. Find it online here.

 

Benefit “They’re Real!” Mini Mascara.Ā This is a fan favorite as well. It volumizes your lashes, thickens them, and it has many other benefits. (Get it). This is a mini size for only $10! I try not to mess a lot with my eye makeup while traveling so I would usually use mascara, and just line my eyes with a pencil. Easy as pie. Find it over here.

 

 

Other tips for saving space include travel size EVERYTHING. Get that mini toothpaste and empty travel bottles. Also, don’t forget deodorant. šŸ™‚

Happy travels!

xo, Martha