Home for the Holidays

Well. Kinda? I’m spending the rest of this week back home in Chicago.. going back to the Bay Sunday.. and then working.. and then flying back to Chicago.. and then to Portland for a few days.. and then back to the Bay.. and working.

Wow. Typing that just made me tired. Whew.

Anyway, this month has A LOT in store for me, but that’s what makes like fun! My caffeine levels are definitely going to skyrocket.. but hey, coffee is delicious.. so that’s 100% ok with me!

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Before heading home for the week, I was in Santa Cruz watching the sunset on the beach (which I will probably write a post on). Fast forward a day, I was sitting on a plane watching the California sunrise behind me.. only to wake up to a white landscape as the plane began its descent into Chicago. Such a strange feeling! One moment the sky is pink and purple.. the next it’s all white and gray.

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Once in Chicago, I was immediately greeted by the ever so familiar chilled wind. I almost forgot how cold it gets in Chicago, but rest assured, I quickly remembered. lrg_dsc05897

Due to the insanely uncomfortable temperatures from this week, I have been spending a majority of my time indoors. While this is certainly not ideal for me, considering that I am someone who has a difficult staying indoors for long periods of time, I have been enjoying spending time with the dogs and admiring my mom’s Christmas decorations.

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To keep myself busy, I have been spending my time reading, catching up with my family, actually watching TV, and photographing my dogs for this year’s Christmas card.

lrg_dsc05939 Fergus (the darker Irish Wolfhound picture on the left), is not very fond of getting his photo taken.. but Seamus (the lighter Irish Wolfhound) did not mind me snapping away. That being said, most of the photos that turned out were of Seamus.

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Now that I only have a few days left at home before heading back to the Bay for work this upcoming week, I have been trying to spend as much time as I can with my family. I have also been trying my best to sleep in.. but these past two days have consisted of early mornings due to Everett’s (my brother) Lasik surgery. Thankfully, his surgery went well and his eyes seem to be recovering just fine 🙂

As for other new news, I actually have some very exciting news… I am getting my own very first.. puppy! He will be coming home December 29th and I am beyond excited, and a little nervous, but mostly excited 🙂

img_3506.jpgHis name is Winston and he is a Saint Berdoodle. “What the heck is a Saint Berdoodle?”, you may ask. Well, to answer your question, Saint Berdoodles are half Saint Bernard and half Poodle. In other words, he’s going to be a giant fluff ball. I am stoked!

That’s all for now!

Talk soon,

Britt

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Reporting to You from the U.S of A

Hey, wassup, hello!

Ok, ok. I know… it has been a while. Just over a year to be exact. Rest assured, I am back and reporting to you all of the U.S of A. With that said, my posts going here forward will be focused on fun things to do in the Bay Area of California and documenting my adventures as a recent college grad. I will also do a few throwback posts focusing on things I learned while studying in France as well as any college related pieces of advice I may have. So stick around and let’s have some little fun!

Be Yourself Café + Travel Preparations

Hello friends!

I can’t believe that it’s already November, which means it’s practically Christmas. Am I right? Or am I right?

Anyway, today was a pretty chill day. Spent the morning watching Netflix, aka my newest best friend, and then made my way to one of my French classes. It is the only class I have this week, so I felt very productive after attending one class. Not wanting to return to my room and be engulfed in Netflix, I decided to head to one of my favorite cafés here in Lille to be productive. I have been wanting to catch up writing in my journal, but I’ve been super lazy and unmotivated lately. So today was the day. I actually got a lot done, go me!

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While, I would love to say that I caught up in documenting all of my experiences and travels while being here, I only made it up to recapping my first month abroad. Needless to say, I have a lot of work to do.

However, I did manage to plan for my next upcoming trip! I booked bus trips to and from the airport. All of that planning and coordinating gave me a headache. There were buses that cost €20-40 just for me to get to the airport. Um, no thanks. Lille to Paris should not cost that much. After some digging, I was able to secure bus tickets for €9 each way. Not too shabby. The only downside is that there is only one bus leaving the day I need to fly out.. and it is super early in the day. My flight is at night, so I will be sitting around in the airport for at least 5-6 hours tomorrow. Yay!

Anyway, traveling is hard. I still don’t know how exactly I will be getting from the airport to my Airbnb.. shall be interesting. But hey, I always manage to figure it out somehow.

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Ok, so besides rambling on and on about the stresses of traveling, I wanted to chat with you all about one of my favorite cafés here in Lille. Before arriving in Lille, I had absolutely no clue what was around me. No one ever gave me a list of cool places to try or any advice on how the schooling even works here (it’s awful by the way). So I hope that this blog can help future students planning on studying in Lille OR give some tips/recommendations to those of you who find yourselves in the beautiful city of Lille.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetWith that said, here is my favorite study spot. The decorations are stylish yet cute and cozy.

IMG_5610.JPGThere are plenty of tables for studying. The tables along the window have outlets as well, however, it’s really unenjoyable sitting there in the middle of the day when the sun is out. It gets super hot and the light is somewhat blinding. So definitely sit there at night.

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I also like how there almost always somewhere to sit. There are two floors of seating plus outdoor seating, so I’ve never had trouble finding a nice place to sit.

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So, if you are looking for a nice place to catch up with friends, enjoy some nice coffee, and/or study, this may be the place for you!

◊ Be Yourself Café Information ◊

Location: 2 Square Morisson, 59800 Lille

Specialties: salad bar, bagels, bagel sandwiches, sweet & savory pancakes, eggs & bacon, smoothies (more like juice than smoothie-like to me), coffee, pastries/desserts.

What I recommend trying: coffee (obviously. they also put a chocolate covered marshmallow like thing on a stick and then put it in your cup. If you look at the first photo in this post, you can see it), soup (great if you are on a budget like me!), bagel sandwiches (super filling and not awfully priced). I have yet to try their breakfast food, but I read reviews from other people saying that it’s good. I, however, have very high standards when it comes to pancakes.. so I am a little skeptical.

Reservations: You can make them if you have a large group of people.. but I wouldn’t bother. There are so many tables to choose from here.

Wifi: Free! And it’s super fast!

Dietary Options: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Halal

Payments Accepted: Cash (Euros), Visa, Master Card, Discovery (not common in this area), and Check

Peak Hours: Lunch time. It gets pretty busy then, so studying may be a little more distracting at this time. I prefer going in the late-afternoon to evening.

Website: click here

*disclaimer: I was in no mean sponsored or even asked to write this post. Opinions are purely my own.

Your turn:

I love discovering local cafes, sooo I want to learn about some of your favorites!

What’s your favorite local café?

What recommendation would you make for a visitor?

Britt in the land of Brits

First off, you guys have no idea how badly I wanted to Instagram a photo with that caption. Basic thinking, yes I know. Buut now that I think about it, I’m probably going to still Instagram something with that caption. Haha, I’m the worst.

Anyway, I’d like to quickly thank everyone who made my birthday so wonderful. I remember thinking on my 21st birthday that I would be so annoyed if people sang TSwift’s “I’m Feeling 22” song to me for my 22nd birthday, but you know what… I secretly enjoyed it. As much as I wanted to fight the urge of basic-ness, I couldn’t help feeling that just maybe there was a reason why TSwift needed to write this song. Turning 22 was actually super fun and memorable!

With that being said, thank you again to everyone for sending me birthday wishes and celebrating with me! I know that I was super slow in responding to everyone, buuut I really did appreciate all of your kind messages 🙂

Ok, so moving on to my London/ birthday experience.

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Britt takes on the Tube

Arriving in London was a bit of a trek for me. I had the option of taking the train to London, which would take 1.5 hours… for around $300. OR. I could take the bus from Lille to London for a total of $60.. but get there in 5-6 hours. Being a study abroad student with a dwindling bank account, I opted for the bus ride. Honestly, the 6 or so hours weren’t so bad though. The buses were equipped with wifi, so I was able to get some work done on them.

Once in London, I scouted out the nearest Tube station which was only a block away. Score. I rushed on over and was immediately shocked by the fast-paced Londoners hustling to and from. At that very moment, I remember thinking “sh*t”. I was terrified. Not going to lie. Everyone around me carried a look of determination and purpose. There I was, a relatively short blonde girl wearing a gigantic backpack stunned by the hustle and bustle around me.

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I had no idea what I was doing, but I found a ticket machine and bought myself an Oyster card (metro card that you can reload). Not wanting to disrupt the flow of traffic, I hustled through the station with absolutely no clue where I was headed. I eventually ended up on a platform that I believed to be mine.. but I wasn’t really sure. As the train approached the platform, I braced myself and decided to guess that it was my train.

Within seconds of me hopping on the train, a couple asked me if I needed help. At that moment, I realized how pathetically confused I must have appeared. I was relieved by their concern though, so I asked them if I was on the right train. To my surprise, I had indeed hopped onto the right train. Go me!

Once at the hotel, I was greeted by a huge huge that nearly knocked me over. My dear friend Maddie, flew all they way from California to celebrate my birthday with me in London! Pretty sure all of the people in the lobby stared at us as we squealed and danced around. I would have stared too I guess.

IMG_5552.JPGBy that time, both of us were starving. We quickly threw our bags in our room and headed out in a search for food. That is when I saw Whole Foods. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Whole Foods is my absolute favorite place to go to back in California. I would grab coffee there with my friends and convince everyone that their burritos were better than Chipotle’s.. just so that they would get dinner with me 😉

So, after 3 months of me not having Whole Foods, I needed to go. So we had dinner at my favorite place in the world. Already off to a great birthday weekend.

SOHO

14639759_10154535768300874_6422482244621471328_nSaturday morning started off with me realizing the Michael Buble’s newest album has been released (it’s amazing, go and listen to it! I am obsessed..) and me eating bacon for the first time in 2 months and oh my gosh I was happy. I really missed bacon guys. I also realized that becoming a vegetarian is probably not possible for me..

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After devouring our breakfasts, we headed out to Soho. This time, taking the tube was super easy.

We then met up with my friend Sydney (she lived next door to me in Lille) and her friend from back home, Emily.

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In an effort to find an easy meeting point, we decided to meet up at Liberty London. And oh my gosh guys, the department store was ridiculous. Their displays were incredible and made me want to design someone’s home. Their visual merchandising team must be incredible, because I wanted to take a photo of every single set. Damn.

14732158_10154535719630874_2336602387232471494_nNot to mention, they had a Christmas section and I nearly died. All of the beautiful lights and decorations had me running around like a 5 year old in a toy shop. I think it’s funny that I am now 22 years old, considering how excited I was to wear Christmas glasses. Sad to say, I did not buy them 😦

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(Emily and Sydney)

(Straight outta) Camden 

14732386_10154535719635874_4016283571330805533_nAfter walking around Soho and realizing that it was mainly a shopping district, we headed over to Camden to explore the Camden Markets. But first, we needed to make a coffee stop.

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Maddie was feeling a little jet lagged from her flight the afternoon before, and I was sleepy from traveling and taking a final exam. So naturally, we needed an afternoon pick me up.

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We decided to sip on our coffee and relax in a cute coffee shop called Falla and Mocaer (yelp link here). I loved the atmosphere and all of the plants they had everywhere. There is just something about plants guys.

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(Me looking tired but happy about coffee)

14666232_10154535719720874_4920612395679046453_nAfter our much needed caffeine dose, we headed out to the markets.

14591876_10154535719820874_2788879693603048661_nAnd oh my goodness, there were so many people. It was absolutely crazy and slightly overwhelming. I am not really a crowds person, so I felt myself weaving in and out of people. We probably should have gone in the morning.. but sleep is nice.

14732155_10154535749825874_5998735195590210497_nAs for Camden itself, it was a very interesting place to visit. There were interesting acts being performed on the streets and tons of little shops. Each shop seemed to sell t-shirts and other knickknacks. I avoided going into a lot of the stores because of how crowded they were, but I absolutely loved the market itself. There were so many local artisans selling unique handmade jewelry and home decor. If I had more time.. and spare money, I would have definitely picked out a ring or necklace for myself.

Covent Gardens

14606401_10154535720220874_512914233660412263_nAfter Camden, we hopped on the Tube and explored Covent Gardens. Like Soho, Covent Gardens was rich in shopping. However, it had a cozier feel to it. The shops were extremely expensive but quaint in appearance.

By the time dinner rolled around, we decided to find a place to celebrate my birthday. After walking around for an hour or so, we stumbled upon Polpo. We thought it looked super cute and cozy, so we decided to give it a try.

14581462_10154535720320874_6795945459995282075_nI am glad we decided to give this place a shot because the food was so good! Compared to American restaurants, the portions appeared A LOT smaller buuut their portions were perfect. I usually can’t finish my plate in the States without feeling sick, so it was a pleasant surprise seeing that I could finish my plate and feel great!

I also loved how cozy and warm the atmosphere was. It made spending time with my friends so enjoyable and relaxing 🙂 I would definitely go back there if I am ever in the area.

As for the rest of the evening, we spend our time clubbing 😉 T’was a fun time.

Kensington Gardens

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Sunday morning, we woke up and walked through Kensington Gardens to get to the next hotel (that Maddie’s dad reserved). It was approximately an hour walk, but I loved every minute of it!

14642168_10154535749940874_1675718017056954410_nAnd of course I couldn’t help busting out some weird poses.

14907592_10154535750030874_4819631211858544962_nBut the park was absolutely gorgeous. I am a HUGE fall person, so I was very excited about all of the changing leaves. Honestly, I will never forget how wonderful Kensington Gardens was. There were children and dogs being walked and the fall crisp air felt so wonderful against my face. I love going on walks and fall, so it was a perfect combination.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetWe even snapped a few photos, because well, I liked the leaves.

14601087_10154535768020874_1606322437362445643_nAfter walking through Kensington Gardens and checking in, we stopped by Harrods. To be perfectly honest, I just wanted to go for the Christmas decorations. Yes I know, it’s not even November, but who cares.

14900576_10154535768120874_91925014259302036_nAnd the Christmas decorations most certainly did not disappoint 🙂

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The rest of the day we spent wandering Covent Gardens and sipping coffee in Fitzrovia at a cute shop called Kaffeine.

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Once I arrived back in Lille, I realized that Kaffeine was number one on 17 London Coffee Shops To Visit Before You Die. I had no idea when I was there, but their coffee was pretty good!

** LONDON Highlights **

A guide for those of you who hate reading:

Areas to visit: Soho, Camden, Covent Gardens, Kensington Gardens + touristy sites

Food to try: Polpo (Italian restaurant)

Coffee: Falla and Mocaer + Kaffeine OR any coffe shop on this list

Clubs: Tiger Tiger (buy ticket ahead of time/ on your phone, it’s cheaper)

Shopping: Liberty London, Soho area, Covent Gardens, Camden Market, Harrods, Fitzrovia

Thoughts on London:

I would go back in a heart beat. I loved the variety of shops and restaurants. The tube was incredibly easy to use after downloading the Tube App. I highly recommend downloading that app if you plan on using the Tube. I also really enjoyed being able to not worry about speaking a foreign language. It was so weird hearing people around me speaking the same language as me. I missed English and British English was fun to listen to.

As for prices, London is EXTREMELY expensive!! I went waaaay over my budget in London, but it was my birthday.. so I feel a little less guilty. Regardless, if you plan on visiting London, be prepared to watch your bank account dwindle. The currency rate really sucks.

Lastly, I had more time to do anything in London, I would spend more time in Kensington Gardens. There was so much that I didn’t have the chance to see! I think it would also be a lot of fun to people watch there.

Hello, it’s me

After much thought, I have decided to create a blog to document my travels, ramblings, and discoveries. For the past two months or so, I have been living and studying abroad in the beautiful city Lille. Coming to France was a huge change for me and has been both the most rewarding and most difficult transition phase in my life. During these past two months, I have travelled to wonderful cities, met some of the kindest people around, made friends from around the world, struggled to speak French, learned to drive a manual transmission car, and much more. With that said, I hope to share all of these experiences with you all and hopefully have this guide those of you who are in the same shoes as me, or will one day find yourself abroad.

I also hope to use this blog as a way to give local recommendations as well as tips and tricks. Many of my friends often ask me about travel recommendations, so why not put it all on here for all of you to see. If you love a good coffee shop, this will probably be the place for you!

So grab a cup of coffee and let’s catch up!

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