bucket list.

there are so many amazing places in the world.  the longer i live, the more things i see, the longer my bucket list grows.  i think i’ll have to work ten jobs simultaneously for about fifty years before i can afford all of these trips…

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watch the balloons during sunrise in cappadocia, turkey

 

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skydive over the swiss alps

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learn about my heritage in scotland

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hike haiku stairs in hawaii

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climb the sydney harbor bridge

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swim in the krka national park waterfalls

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explore the european christmas markets

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get back to oktoberfest

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see the northern lights in reykjavik

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work in amsterdam

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hop between the greek islands

if i’m lucky, i’ll be able to do half of these before i die

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to do.

Moving to a new city can be overwhelming. So can starting a new semester. When you combine those, it’s almost too much to handle. Here are five tips on how to begin to conquer the city of Florence upon your arrival.

  • Sign up for a Conad card. You’ll likely be buying groceries multiple times per week, as Europeans prefer fresher ingredients and buy smaller amounts more frequently to fit this preference. Having a grocery card can help with discounts that you might not know about.
  • Get a pizza to go from Gusta Pizza and climb over the edge of Ponte Grazie with it. This is an especially beautiful place for a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine can be a nice addition. The list of things that can compare with watching the sunset on the Fiume Arno while eating Gusta Pizza is short. Just don’t forget napkins and silverware!
  • Another great place to take Gusta Pizza: Piazzale Michelangelo. This piazza provides a view of the entire “tourist” side of Florence, including the Duomo, Piazza della Repubblica, Santa Croce and Piazza Vecchio. Be sure to take a camera and some friends along for great pictures!
  • Buy an electric bug zapper. The mosquitoes are relentless in Florence and you WILL get bitten. I’ve woken up to eight new bites in one night alone – and those were just the ones on my face. If you don’t want to spend the dozen or so euros to get this pseudo tennis racquet, buy bug spray or bug wipes. If you prefer the spray, bring it with you to the city. If you’re okay with rubbing  mosquito repellant wipes on yourself, they’re easily accessible at any 99 cent store in Florence.
  • Even if you’re great with directions, it can be difficult to become accustomed to a new city – especially when it’s in another country and you don’t speak the language. Figure out the closest landmark to your apartment or school. Asking strangers what direction towards the Duomo or Piazza della Signoria is a lot easier than trying to explain your apartment building.
  • Last but not least: go to a phone store (Wind, Tim, Fastweb, etc.) and buy an Italian SIM card. You’ll be in the city for months and you’ll be more than glad to be able to use your phone without Wifi. Prices for data/SMS plans aren’t bad if you shop around. The cheaper prices typically have a slightly smaller coverage area, but you’ll be fine with any of the providers.

christmas list.

It’s hard to know what to bring on a long trip like study abroad. Sometimes, the things you swear will be useful end up untouched; the most wanted items often get left behind. Here are the things I wish I’d known to bring along my first time – just in time for your Christmas list, so you don’t have to spend a dime!

– A high quality portable charger. I’m talking one of the 4x charge Mophie from the Apple store. You’ll be taking a lot of pictures – especially when you travel. That means your phone dies very quickly.

– On that note, bring an external hard drive or something to store pictures. You’ll likely take more than you can count and you don’t want to need to delete any when your phone runs out of space.

– If you like music, bring good headphones or a Bluetooth speaker. You’ll want to jam out during pre-games and it’s hard to do that at full volume on a laptop.

– Multiple European converters or a plug into which you can put a lot of chargers at once. It isn’t fun to charge your computer, phone and camera battery one by one when you need them simultaneously.

– Extra mascara. Yes, there are plenty of make up stores in Florence. Yes, there are even stores that sell American brands. But I use Covergirl and my specific kind isn’t carried in stores in Florence. If you’re particular about your make up, it’s probably a good idea to bring extras.

– It’s great to have a nice DSLR camera when you travel. Your pictures turn out well, you can take a ton quickly without using all your phone storage and they’re high quality. But these are expensive and plenty of people already have one. Don’t necessarily buy one, but if you already have one – BRING. IT. Throw in some extra memory cards too.

– A hand towel can be nice to have in your bathroom and is something you’re probably used to having around in America. If you don’t have room for one, you can get a cheap one at Conad, the grocery store.

– If you regularly take any medicines (allergy, birth control, etc.), I’m sure you’ve already thought about bringing enough to last during study abroad. But what about things like ZzzQuil? Benadryl? Ibuprofen? It can really help to throw some of these into your luggage.

– You’ll likely bring a backpack for classes, but bring a reusable tote too. You can throw your dirty laundry in it, use it to carry groceries home (avoid paying for plastic bags each time!), etc. It’s ridiculously useful to bring a reusable bag and it folds into basically nothing, so it won’t take up your whole suitcase!

– Whatever your hobby might be, bring it. If you like drawing, bring a sketchbook and your pens/pencils. If you like painting, throw in your watercolors, a brush and some paper. You WILL have down time and the city is incredibly inspiring. Sometimes, you’ll want to capture it in more than just pictures.

– Make sure to order Euros from your bank at least two weeks in advance. A lot of bigger banks keep foreign currency on hand, but not all of them will have enough! I like to bring 500€ in cash with me to pay for things like my cab from the airport, snacks or my first round of groceries. You’ll have ATM fees and likely foreign transaction fees, but you can avoid at least one round of these by bringing some cash with you. Plus, when you’re jet-lagged, do you really want to have to worry about finding an ATM?

parisian persuasion.

as graduation looms ever closer, i can’t help but find my mind drifting more towards its wanderlusting tendencies.  i feel i would be settling to accept an offer in the states, as i have dreamed for years of traveling overseas to work when i finished at university.  but now that it is more reality than a dream, now that i have the chance to actually move across the world to start a new life, i find it more difficult than i ever imagined.

 

if anyone knows of an employer seeking a young and enthusiastic planner/photography enthusiast, let me know.

stormy scotland.

what a way to travel back in time – with the gothic influence on the gorgeous medieval, romanesque architecture of edinburgh.  i normally prefer sunny weather for vacations, but this gem would easily make the top five on my list of favorite cities if it’s as beautiful in person as it is in pictures.

(all images are sourced from my scotland pinterest board.  i do not own any images.)