Monday, September 29, 2014

Back to School Outfit + What's in My Uni Bag?

 photo sarah-hello_zps81f8f64b.jpg
Although I know many of you went back to school over a month ago, for me, this is my first day back. In honor of that, and to take my mind off of first day jitters, I thought I'd do a post on my favorite "Back to School" outfit and tell you what I generally carry around campus with me…after this minor interruption! 
* contacted me and asked me to put together my favorite "Back to School" outfit as part of their "Hit the Books" Styling competition, all about how hard it can sometimes be to be a blogger and a full time student, and I would appreciate it so much if you could take a moment to vote for mine! It's incredibly easy, you just follow this link, pick the dot next to my picture, scroll down and click vote, and voila! It just takes a second and it would mean a ton to me, so please, if you've got a second, go and vote! Xxxxx. * 
You can find the rules and regs there if you've got a blog and you'd like to participate too! Now, back to business… 
laughing because just before this was taken my entire corridor walked past and judged me hardcore #doitfortheblogBack to School Outfit

When I was planning out this post originally, I planned to wear my favorite button down, my riding boots, and a hunter green skater skirt. Immediately when I put it on, I felt uncomfortable. It's not that it didn't look cute, it just wasn't something I'd actually wear to class, and it also looked like a private school girl's uniform. I stressed over it for a bit, but instead of skipping the post, I thought I'd just show you what I actually wear to class. Yes, it's less style blogger and more casual, but I thought I'd save the glitz and glamour for the professionals. When I head out to class, I want to be put together, but I also want to be comfortable and feel good in my skin. This kind of outfit is that for me. The button down is comfortable, but also classic. The plaid flats add a bit of color, but they're comfortable and practical for trekking across campus and climbing up flights of stairs. And my leggings…do I even need to explain why they're the epitome of comfort? For a bit of extra warmth, I just threw my Ralph Lauren cable knit on top since I am in England after all and it's bloody freaking cold in the morning. My tote is H&M, but you can get all of those details below!

What's in My Uni Bag?

The bag: 
My tote bag is H&M from last fall, but the style above is this year's version! It's basically the same, except on this one, the corners are rounded. It's an excellent bag, one that I've used as a carry on twice, so I can voice for how much it holds, and it just looks very simple and chic, no matter what you wear with it! At $40, it's a steal! 
The necessities: 
Notebook, planner, pens, laptop, etc. It is school after all, so you've got to carry a few school supplies. I actually love cheap Bic pens, as weird and picky as I am about everything else, and my planner is just the standard Lilly one. I think it's the Large version. My glasses are Ray bans (style #5310) and they're tortoiseshell on the outside and lavender on the inside…I'm obsessed! 
The beauty backups: 
I always carry concealer and mascara on me, because those are usually the first to disappear! You never know when you'll need to touch up, and I don't want to be stuck somewhere looking tired and worn out, so I make sure to always have these with me. Dry Shampoo runs in that same vein, because I don't know about you, but after a day of class, my hair is pretty flat, and I like to fluff it up a bit before heading to work or out to dinner with my friends! My Pinch mini emergency kit has saved me many a times. There are so many things in there, like a deodorant swatch, a stain remover, a sewing kit, a mini tampon, aspirin, and chapstick…it's really incredible. 
Snack time: 
I want to pretend that I eat mature snacks like roasted almonds and green tea, but you know me better than that. My snacks usually consist of chocolate chip granola bars and Coke, as bad as they are for me, they always do the job! 
Gum is a must at all times. I'm trying very hard to stop biting my nails and when I get anxious, I try to chew gum instead of bite…it works about half the time! 
My rosebud is a life saver. It can be used on cuticles, dry skin, and most of all chapped lips. I tend to also lick my lips a lot when I'm nervous (I really need to chill out), and this stuff brings my lips back to life so quickly! I find that other brands feel nice when they're on, but they don't really moisturize, but this stuff does both! 
Wallet and headphones are obvious…ain't nobody got time to be left without those!
I just recently got a Jack Wills card holder for my oyster card while I was in London, and I now use it to hold my Nottingham student ID, which is so convenient because it scans without me having to even take it out…and it's adorable! 

What is your favorite outfit for school and what are your "must have" school supplies? 
 photo sarah-sig_zps54eac73d.jpg

Friday, September 26, 2014

Things I Love and Hate About My Time in England (so far)

 photo sarah-hello_zps81f8f64b.jpg
So, I've been in England for about two weeks now, and I feel like I can finally write an "update" post! I had so many expectations coming here, and while some things are exactly like I expected, some things are definitely not. Here are the main things that have made an impression. 
Love: The casualness around alcohol and drinking 
This sounds weird coming from me, but I really love the fact that the drinking age here is 18. Not that I'm going crazy because of it, but it's nice to just be able to go out and buy your own drinks and pre game in my own room with all my hall mates. And did I mention that there are 14 bars on campus, one of which is in my actual dorm…and serves awesome burgers? Because I bloody love it. Also, love the clubs here. They play actual music and it's so much fun to sing and dance to. It's the stereotypical night club scene, but being that we don't really have that where I'm from, I'm loving it here. 

Hate: The amount of alcohol everywhere 
Yep, I'm going to semi-contradict myself, because as much as I love the alcohol free for all, I don't love the amount of people that are really and truly going bat shit cray and doing stupid things at all hours of the day and night. I like to drink, but getting into stupid situations because of it is not my thing, and I don't necessarily think the all access all the time to alcohol is the best thing for these fresh out of their parent's house freshers. 

Love: The mix of everyone's accents 
Y'all already know I have a thing for British accents. I absolutely love everything that comes out of their mouths, even curse words, which is unusual pour moi. It's so cool to be eating in the dining hall or be walking around campus and not only hear Brits, but also Australians, Indians, South Africans, Irish, Scottish, and so many more! It's especially funny to me that people love my accent, because they've turned every time I say y'all into a drinking game. I've also been called Ms. Louisiana more time than I can count, but, it could be worse, right? 

Hate: The general bad manners
Okay, this may seem like a bit of a blanket statement, but by bad manners I generally mean different cultural things than what I'm used to. Guys do not hold open doors or offer to help when you're carrying loads of stuff. Everyone curses, a lot. They laugh at me when I say  "yes ma'am" or "no sir" because that's not the norm. It's a bit weird, especially because I talk to strangers on the reg when I'm home, but overall, I've met some super awesome, really nice people, so I can forgive those minor things! 

Love: Sharing a hall with guys
The hall situation here is so different than at home, because here all 3 of my next door neighbors are guys, whereas at home, there are girls and boys corridors in each hall(dorm). I really like the atmosphere of this much better because obviously guys bring a different vibe and can be much less dramatic than girls, and it's fun when we all pre game and hangout together. Also, I love that we have a dining hall where everyone eats together, because it really makes me feel like I'm at Hogwarts. 

Hate: Sharing my space with guys 
Last night, the guys in my hall were literally playing cricket in the corridor at 2 am. Not okay. I also almost fall into the toilet every morning because they refuse to put the seat down. It's a struggle.

Love: The convenience of public transport 
I absolutely love the tube, and trains, and city buses. I think it's so awesome that you can get around anywhere you want and there are stations everywhere so you never have to worry about finding one. It's so much more convenient, especially because I don't have a car here, and I really wish the US would step up it's public transport game. 

Hate: The crowded dirtiness of public transport
I've gotten sick twice in 3 weeks and I'm convinced it's because I keep touching all the bus handles and being in too close proximity to everyone all the time. In Nottingham it isn't as bad, but the London tube was just gross sometimes. And I bite my nails, so yeah, I'm very grossed out.  

Love: The way everything is so close and easy to get to 
I'm going to Dublin in mid-October and it's only a two hour flight. That is so cool to me! Things are so much easier to get to over here and I feel like I just want to go everywhere. I guess it goes along with public transport, but I feel like Europe is just so much more connected and I really love it. 

Hate: Ryanair 
So, about Dublin. I accidentally booked the wrong return flight and they wanted to charge me 60 pounds to change it…which was as much as 2 tickets. Thank God I called within 24 hours and they didn't charge me the fee, but my Lord Ryanair, that's a bit steep. 

Love: British money
I love European money in general because it's so colorful, but British money is especially nice because of the Queen. The only thing I don't understand though, is why the 2 pence and 1 pence coins are bigger than the 10 and 20. I don't appreciate that. 

Hate: The freaking exchange rate 
Basically, all the money I brought was practically cut in half when I got here. My bank statements are such a sad sight to see now. 

Love: The food
Oh yeah, the controversial topic of British food. I can't say that I've eaten out a lot, but I have eaten at Wagamama's and absolutely loved it. I also loved the Shake Shack in Covent Garden, but that's pretty American, so it doesn't really count. I do love the whole pub atmosphere though, and I'm going to try Nando's soon, so I'll update then. (I totally understand that none of this is particularly British, because the other foods I've eaten fall in the "hate" category) 

Hate: The food 
Another contradiction…no surprise there. I am really not a fan of the fact that nothing here is as sugary as I'm used to (coke, cake, cereal, etc), or the fact that most things are very bland. I've eaten so many potatoes in the last 3 weeks, I don't even know. Also, why are there no regular flavored Doritos  or maybe Cheetos? And where are the sugary cereals like Fruit Loops are Honey Nut Cheerios? Clearly, I'm really torn up about the lack of quality junk food. 

All in all, it still doesn't feel real. My friends and I keep saying, "Can you believe we're living in England?" It's strange to work so long and hard towards a goal and then get it, because A. it's like, what now? and B. it never really feels that different from life before, so it's very strange. I feel very lucky and happy with my choice to come to England and Nottingham and I'm looking forward to all my adventures coming in the next 3 months! 

Have you ever been to England? What did you think? Any recommendations on things I should see or places I should go? 
 photo sarah-sig_zps54eac73d.jpg

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tower of London + 221B Baker St.

 photo sarah-hello_zps81f8f64b.jpg
On the morning of Da 3 we woke up quite late, but still wanted breakfast at the appropriate time of 1 pm, so we headed out to West Hampstead, where Amy lived last year. She's raved about a place called Alice House for basically a year, so that's where we went! 
I had the pancakes with golden syrup and bacon meal and it was amazing

Is this not gorgeous? 

We then headed to Baker Street, but immediately stopped when I saw a Baskin Robbins. I love their pecan pralines and cream ice cream when I'm home, so I had to make Amy try it as well...
She liked it. 

The Baker Street tube station was my favorite. It is exactly what you'd think a tube station would look like…very vintage and Harry Potter-ish. 

Just stopped by to see Bae, aka Sherlock. 

We spent the entire afternoon at the Tower of London, but I wish we'd had even more time. It really is such a cool place with so much to see and so much history to take in. 
At the moment, there are poppies covering the grounds outside the tower, in remembrance of those lost in WWI. It really is a striking sight to see and it really makes you pause and think about how many lives were lost and how many more lives were affected. 

King Henry IV's bed chamber (I think, please don't quote me on getting the right King Henry)

and his private chapel connected to his bed chamber 

views from the wall walks around the perimeter of the tower 

As y'all know already, I love the Shard, but the juxtapostion of it with the old architecture in the Tower is just too cool. 

The place where Anne Boleyn, and many others were beheaded. 

Houses and offices on the tower grounds. 

*illegal pics in the chapel*

I just love windows really.

This is the part where we ran into the last admission line for the crown jewels...

*my one illegal picture of the crown jewels* 

Traitor's Gate where many prisoners were brought in…so eery to see after having ready so much about it. It's a very small, cramped pathway behind the gate and then there are stairs that boats pulled up to to bring the prisoners inside.  

Me trying to look innocent before doing this...

*illegally hopping into the windows to take artsy pics*

Back story: I saw a little passageway cut into the wall so I ran into it thinking it would lead to something extremely cool. I found an old toilet…this was my very let down and grossed out reaction. 

*yet another picture in an illegal "off limits" place…I swear to God these people are going to deport me*

"Oh, here I am, just exploring…" 

The Tower Bridge. Literally, one of my favorite London landmarks besides Parliament. The weather was awesome that afternoon, was cool and breezy, but sunny as well, and the day was just perfect for our little field trip! 

This was really my last "explore" day in London because the next day I rested and tried to sleep off my jet lag, but I've got TONS of pictures from our visit to Cambridge going soon! 

 photo sarah-sig_zps54eac73d.jpg

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Big Ben, and Parliament, and Buckingham, oh my!

 photo sarah-hello_zps81f8f64b.jpg
It feel like it's been weeks since I blogged last! So much has happened and every day has been so packed with new places and people and experiences and it's all a bit overwhelming, but in the best way.  I'm going to mix my first two days in London together because my first day was light on activity after my long haul flight!
First off, can I just say that leaving was so much harder than I thought! It's not that I wasn't excited or ready to go, but I suddenly got so overwhelmed at the thought of not seeing my family for 4 months and actually leaving everyone and everything that is so familiar to me. Long story short, when it came time to actually let go and go through security, we actually made the security guard tear up…so that was a blast. It just reminded me of all the times I had to say goodbye to my dad when he'd leave for Iraq when I was little and it's not always the concept of being gone, it's more the actual, physical letting go, and it was harder than I anticipated, but anyway...

It took about an house at customs and another hour to get all the way into central London on the tube, so by the time we got to Amy's flat it was already past ten. I was sweaty and exhausted after hauling those suitcases so I immediately hopped into the shower. Then we of course lounged around for a good bit so I don't think we got out until about 4. We just explored the city and went out in search of food and Boots. 

My first British meal…a Shake Shack burger! (so, so good!) We ate in Convent Garden, but I'll save a post on that for when it's all decorated for Christmas. While we were eating, there was a man doing tricks to the left of us and a woman singing opera on our left…that's what I call atmosphere. 

I have been obsessed with Boots ever since I started watching British YouTubers. Brits just have all different brands and it was so much fun to explore and try out new things! 

I mean, I had to. 

My Boots haul…I'm currently loving all of it. Bourgeois makeup is the best. 

Being that I was falling asleep mid-conversation the night before, day two started a bit slow. I caught up on some sleep and then hurried off to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace! 
But not before a quick "omg it's so fall" insta…obviously. 

The Guard riding towards the palace 

The London Eye in the distance 

The guard doing whatever it is that they do 

literally so chuffed with life (Amy decided to take tons of "behind the blog" pics, so that's how this happened)

Big Ben in the distance

Random side note: As most of you will know, there is a lot of tension right now in the UK over the possible Scottish and English split. This woman happened to be stuck in traffic because of the Changing of the Guard and she was not happy about it, so she yelled at the guard, "The sooner we become a republic, the better!" and me and Amy just died. 

We then had a mini picnic in Green Park outside the palace 

And it was beautiful! 

"buckingham palace got me like…" 

As many of you will know I met Amy through blogging and we've become very good friends. I had the most amazing time staying with her in London and I am so thankful for her! And plus, we look super presh together, so bonus! 

When you're presented with the opportunity to selfie with Buckingham Palace, you don't deny it. 

This is literally the view from the Westminster tube station…gorgeous! 

We then went to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben…as I' sure you'd noticed! 

The London Eye is just right across the river which I think is so cool. Everything is very close together. 

Amy taking a picture of me trying to selfie with Big Ben. Stop judging, you'd do it too. 

Seriously so chuffed.

Stilllll Parliament. 

Westminster Abbey! (which is just a block or two away from Parliament!) 

Amy and I had lunch at the Cellarium, which is a cafe in the cellar of Westminster Abbey, and we were freaking out the entire time. #tooposh4u 

Can we just talk about the gorgeousness of this picture? The double decker bus, the London Eye, Big Ben, and perfect weather? It was awesome! 

We then headed down to Hyde Park where I found this tree with carvings all the way up the trunk in all sorts of different languages. It was very neat to see. 

the lake in Hyde Park 

Ice cream + swans…what is life? 

There's a little cafe right next to the bridge where we got ice cream, but they also have champagne on tap…yes please. 

Befriending the wildlife, as one does. 


Ooh, artsy silhouette pic…am I Amy yet? 

the SHARD. I am so in love with that thing. 

That night, we got tickets for the London Eye at 8:30 and the line was horridly long. We then got fast tracked, even though we didn't pay for that sort of ticket and it was awesome…so posh. (;

our "we're at the top of the freakin London Eye selfie" 

Snog frozen yogurt served from a pink double decker bus. Step up your game America. 

After the London Eye, we walked along the Southbank of the Thames and found this place. The pizza was really good and the atmosphere was even better. Think fire breathers and a drum circle right in the surf of the river...

And that's it! All in all, it was such a good day and I just kept thinking to myself "This can't be my life. No way am I in London getting to do and see all of these cool things." It was incredible and a day I'm sure I'll always remember and I feel so, so lucky and happy that I got to experience it. 

I'll post days two and three soon and there's also a post on Cambridge coming up, so keep your eyes peeled!

 photo sarah-sig_zps54eac73d.jpg
© Sarah Smile. All rights reserved.
Blogger templates by pipdig