My Dream Trip to France – 2020

Hey everyone! I am back from my trip to France! Although I was so sad to leave, I was also happy to see my family again. To be in my own space again. I finally got to go on my dream trip, and I am so extremely grateful that I was given this opportunity. I am very excited to share my trip with you all today! I took a break from blogging while on my trip, but if you would like to see some more photos from France, check out my Instagram: @sacchere14.

The week before I left, I felt a mix of emotions. With every day that passed, my nerves intensified. What’s funny is that leading up to the trip, I was more nervous than I was when I was actually on the trip! I also thought I would be crying and missing my family every night, and while I did miss them, I was enjoying myself and having fun. I spoke to them every day.

I’ve wanted to go to Paris my whole life, and I felt like I was waiting forever to get there. Then the opportunity came up and I said yes. Everything happened so quickly after that. Before I knew it, I was in Paris.

Our first day was honestly a bit of a blur. After traveling and barely sleeping on the flights to France, we were exhausted to say the least. As soon as we got to Paris, we had to hit the ground running, and let me tell you, this was not easy. It was hard to enjoy that first day because of the jet lag, but we got to the airport, and we took a coach bus to our hotel. On the bus, we had a tour guide show us around Paris. We saw pretty much all of the big monuments/attractions from the bus that day. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe. We walked down the Champs Elysees, and did a bit of shopping. On the night of the first day, we had a group dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.

My first time seeing the Eiffel Tower
Paris, France

We had to learn how to use the metro system, which was a bit difficult. My friend and I got lost a couple of times, but we ultimately got to where we needed to be. We walked so much on this trip though, which in Europe, is kind of expected. One day, we walked 13 miles! We decided that it was easier than trying to figure out the metro, but we still tried to take the metro when we could!

The second day, we walked to Sacre Coeur, which was absolutely beautiful. It is a giant cathedral sitting on top of a tall hill. On the way up, a few of the girls and I stopped at a couple souvenir shops. I know it’s cliche, but I decided to buy a couple berets. One in black, and one in red. I also bought an adorable key chain of the Eiffel Tower with some macaroons. Typical tourist, I know. Then we made our way up the hill to see Sacre Coeur. On top of the hill we had a beautiful view of Paris. After, a few of us decided to get hot dogs, and they were AMAZING. I’ve never had a hot dog with melted cheese on top. I don’t know what kind of cheese it was, but it was SO good.

Sacre Coeur
Paris, France

After lunch, we decided to check out the historic Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. Apparently, the owner of the store, George Whitman, would allow writers to sleep in the shop so long as they wrote something during their stay. And me, being a writer, loved hearing this. We then walked around the Latin Quarter and stopped by a couple of  boutiques. While looking for nothing in particular, I found a beautiful green and gold dress that I decided I needed to have.

In the evening, we all went on a Seine river cruise. The walk from our hotel to the port was amazing because we got so close to the Eiffel Tower. It was so beautiful, and we got some great pictures! A few of us went outside of the boat to get the best pictures and videos. The Eiffel Tower was lit up and standing tall right in front of us. A couple of the girls and I went out to dinner by the Eiffel Tower and had a really great meal together. We did it the French way, and stayed longer than we normally would. It’s funny, in the United States, everything feels so rushed. We are always on the go and we don’t always prioritize some time for ourselves or the people we love. In France, they have that time. They make that time. And it made me wish I could live the way that the French do. It just seems like a healthier lifestyle overall.

Paris, France

The next day, we walked to the Musée d’Orsay. We were able to stay for a while, and I got to see the self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh, as well as a few paintings by Monet. After this, my friend and I were on the hunt for the Moulin Rouge. We decided to walk from the museum which was a very long walk, and Apple/Google maps were not all that helpful. We got a bit lost, and even though our feet were killing us, it was kind of fun getting lost in Paris. Trying to find our way around and exploring the city.

On the way, we saw Laduree, and that is THE place to go if you want macaroons. I was so excited, so we made a quick stop! It was not the one on the Champs Elysees, but the little shop was adorable, and  we decided to try some macaroons. I got chocolate, rose, pistachio, and vanilla. We continued our search for the Moulin Rouge, and after so much walking, we decided to stop for lunch.

We finally found the Moulin Rouge, and we took some photos in front of it. We then made our way back to Sacre Coeur because it was a stunning area. We ate our macaroons on top of the hill, looking down on Paris. The macaroons were absolutely delicious! They were so flavorful, and I was so glad we got to try them.

Trying French macaroons for the first time
Paris, France

We then explored more of Montmartre. We were able to see a ton of artists drawing and painting, and we walked around the small, quiet village. Before dinner, our professors invited us to the Montparnasse Tower on the 56th floor, where the restaurant was. We had an amazing view, and we got to see the sunset go down over my new favorite city. My friend and I went to dinner afterward, and had what we both believe was the BEST pasta we’d ever had in our lives. It was a small restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. The food on this trip was so, so good. Almost all of my meals were delicious, but this one took the cake!

The view from the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower
Paris, France

The next day, we took a train to Lyon. If I’m being honest, I had never really heard much about this city. I didn’t really know what we would be seeing or doing here. The first day we were there, we had time to ourselves so my friend and I explored Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon). We walked up a hill to get the best view of the city. We saw some amazing cathedrals and incredible statues around every corner. Seeing such old buildings and statues always fascinates me. I truly can’t believe that buildings like this are still here today, and that people actually made this at one point. I am so glad that the people in countries like this have taken such good care of these beautiful buildings, so that generations and generations could enjoy it as well.

Saint Jean Cathedral
Lyon, France

One thing I really wanted to try was chocolate, so I found a place in Lyon, and bought a few pieces. The employees at the little shop brought out a fresh, hot batch of brioche with praline roses. We tried some, and I was in heaven. It was so good.

The next day, we had a guide give us a tour of Old Lyon. She knew so much about the city, and she was able to tell and show us some things that we didn’t know about. She told us that the best place to get the brioche with praline roses was the exact place my friend and I went to the day before! I bought some praline roses so my family could try them! It was a really cold and rainy day, but we were looking forward to our cooking class that night. We were all able to help make a meal that we enjoyed as a group.

Vieux Lyon
Lyon, France

For our last full day in Lyon, we took a tour of the newer side of the city. This side was not as interesting to me, but it was still very cool to see the new buildings. It all looked very futuristic. The buildings were built in a way that allowed sunlight to reach almost every window. They were very unique and different from anything I’d seen before. After our tour, we decided to go back to Old Lyon. My friend and I were looking forward to trying crepes and they were really good, though they reminded me of pancakes.

We then stopped by a few stores. I was on the hunt for a nice brown trench coat. We walked into a department store and saw quite a few. I found that many were a bit too pricy for me. I saw one for $900! I knew I did not have too much money to spend, but we found one at a store called Pimkie, which I believe is similar to H&M. I bought a thinner brown trench coat for $50. It is not exactly what I pictured, but I fell in love with it.

The next day we took a train back to Paris for our final day. As soon as we arrived, all of us took the metro to the Louvre Museum. I was really excited to go because lately, the museum has not been open very often. We got to see the Mona Lisa, and we were amazed by the museum as a whole. After our time at the museum, my friend and I went off and stopped by Shakespeare and Co. again. We made reservations at Laduree on the Champs Elysees because we needed to have macaroons one last time! The next day, we were headed to the airport to go home!

Seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum
Paris, France

Any time we heard people speaking English, my friend and I immediately wanted to talk to them. We would ask them where they were from, and what brought them to France. The locals were always very kind and helpful to my friend and I, and we never had one bad interaction with them. We found the negative stereotype that the French have of being “rude” to be very untrue. We even struck up conversations with a few of the locals and it was really interesting to learn more about their culture. I love being around people from all over the world because it truly shows you that there is an entire world out there besides your own city, state, or country, and it is incredible to see.

Something that I learned while being in France is that they have their dessert before dinner. Around 4-5, the French will go out for something sweet, and they usually start eating dinner around 7:30. It took us a while to learn this because after dinner, we would go out looking for crepes or ice cream, but most places were already closed!

While in Lyon, I realized that many of the locals did not know as much English as the locals in Paris. This made a lot of sense, seeing that so many people travel to Paris from all over the world. Lyon does not have as many tourists in comparison. It made me think about the fact that many Parisians most likely have to learn some English. The language barrier really wasn’t much of an issue, but in Lyon we did struggle to get our point across a bit more.

I was able to bond with some of the girls on the trip, and getting to experience this with them was fun. I always imagined that I would live out this dream with my family, but dreams don’t always work out the way you think they will. I think that things happen for a reason, and France taught me to say yes, to take risks, and to chase my dreams.

I feel so lucky that I was able to do this. I feel proud of myself for taking a big step, but what I’ve realized is that maybe I was more ready for this than I thought. Before leaving, I was fearful. Fearful of leaving my family, of having to take care of myself without them, and fearful that I wouldn’t enjoy my time. I didn’t know any of the girls going on the trip very well, and I thought of all of the things that could go wrong.

This trip really did allow me to get out of my comfort zone. It allowed me to gain independence and confidence, and it brought me so much joy. Deciding whether or not to do it was difficult, but in the end, I chose to chase my dream. Sometimes life is going to hand you certain opportunities, and you need to decide if it is worth taking a risk for. My trip was not perfect, but it was my dream, and I am so happy that I got to live it. Like I said, I’ve wanted to go to Paris forever. I always hoped I’d get there, I just never knew it would happen so soon.

Thank you so much for reading! I have many more dreams and goals that I can’t wait to share with you all one day. I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip, and I’m already looking forward to my next adventure. Until next time!

Pack With Me for My Trip to France

Hey everyone! I recently shared with you all that I am going on my dream trip to France over spring break, and I am leaving VERY soon! I am a little nervous but so excited! I can’t believe that I am already packing for this trip! Anyone who knows me knows that I love creating lists and planning things out, so packing for a trip is always exciting for me! Now unpacking…. that’s another story!

I am going to be gone for a little over a week, and since it is technically still winter, it is going to be a bit chilly in France. Although you can never be 100% when it comes to the weather, I always like to do a quick google search to see what the weather is typically like at the time of year I am going on a trip. I also constantly check the weather app on my phone prior to and during my trip. After checking the weather, I try to pack accordingly. I do not necessarily mind the cold weather, but I hope it isn’t going to rain too much. When I picture France, I don’t often picture a lot of sun, but I am hoping for the best!

Clothing :

Long before I go on any trip, I like to plan out different outfits to wear.  I will typically take pictures of them and save them in my phone so I can remember what I wanted to bring.  I also tend to go shopping before a big vacation for a few new pieces! I am not the type of person to simply throw a bunch of random things in my suitcase and call it a day (my sister does this and it drives me crazy)!

I often travel with my family, but they will not be coming with me on this trip, hence, why I am a bit nervous. I tend to over pack, and I will sometimes need someone else to carry a few of my things. This time, I need to pack light and really narrow down my options.

For clothing, I plan on bringing a couple light sweaters and long sleeved shirts. I am bringing some t-shirts, a cardigan, and a zip up hoodie for layering. I have this beautiful black pea coat that was given to me as a gift on Christmas, and it is perfect for France. The other jacket I am bringing will be more of a rain coat that I could wear on rainy/possibly warmer days.

As for undergarments, I like to bring extras. I’ll pack enough socks (long and short), underwear, bras, and a couple tank tops for layering purposes. 

Two of the days will be travel days, and I want to be comfortable on the long plane rides. I will be wearing some comfortable pants (most likely leggings), a loose t-shirt, and my boots. I am also going to wear my heavier jacket on the plane. Many people say that when you are traveling, you should try to wear your heaviest items so you don’t have to try and fit it all in your luggage. I am not the biggest fan of this tip though, because when you go through security, you’ll most likely have to take off those layers.

 I will be gone for over a week, so I think that bringing 2-3 pairs of shoes should suffice. I am going to try to bring a nice pair of flats, an athletic (and comfortable) pair of sneakers, and a pair of black boots.

Accessories:

I bought a matching scarf and hat set for the colder days. I also love cross body bags for travel, so I am bringing a simple black one that will match all of my outfits. At first, I did not want to bring a backpack because it is just another thing to carry, but I decided to get a small black backpack in case my necessities do not fit in my cross body. This way, if I need to, I can throw a couple things in there throughout the day. Or, if I buy something new, I can throw it in there as well!

When it comes to jewelry, I don’t go too crazy. I am going to bring a couple necklaces and bracelets, and a few different options for earrings.  I also wear two gold rings every day, so these are also coming with me!

Although it may not be very sunny, I like to bring sunglasses on every trip. I bought a simple black pair from H&M recently, so I will be bringing those!  I am also bringing a small umbrella, just in case!

Beauty:

When I pack my makeup, I try to think realistically about what I am going to use. I don’t really wear too much makeup on vacation (especially when I am at the bach), but I still want to look presentable. Luckily, I am a member of Ipsy, and many of the products I receive from them are sample sizes, which is perfect for travel! A few of my everyday beauty essentials are foundation (I use this as concealer. I never do a full face on vacation), powder, mascara, lip colors, and eyeliner. Since most of the beauty products I am bringing are fairly small, they can easily fit inside one of my glam bags, and inside my carry-on!

When it comes to skincare, I still do not necessarily have a set routine, but Ipsy has sent me many skincare products to try recently, so I am bringing acne wash, moisturizer, eye cream, and a facial cleanser.

I am unsure if I want to straighten my hair for this trip or leave it natural. I don’t really do too much to my hair when I am at home, so I may leave it natural because it’ll be a lot easier.  I am going to bring shampoo, conditioner, a mini hair brush, as well as a few hair accessories (hair ties, hair clips, bobby pins etc.).

Toiletries:

I like to be prepared for anything and everything, so my list is a little long, but I’ll keep it short for you. I plan on packing tweezers, deodorant, body wash, contact lenses (and extra contacts), glasses, toothbrush and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, and razors, just to name a few of the items. I also think that it is important to pack some kind of pain reliever such as aspirin or ibeuprofin. When traveling, there are bound to be days when you aren’t feeling so great, so it can be a life saver to have this on you.

Technology:

I ALWAYS bring my portable chargers on any trips because we are usually out sightseeing all day when we travel as a family. This is an essential in my opinion. I will simply charge my phone and my portable chargers at night, and then I am usually good to go for the day! I also try to keep my phone on low battery mode, and when I am not using it, I will keep it on airplane mode. I am also bringing my headphones for travel days!

Miscellaneous:

Since I will be traveling out of the country, I am going to need my passport. I was given the most adorable passport cover and luggage tag for Christmas! I also need to bring some Euros in case certain places will not accept cards. I am bringing both my ID and student ID (for discount prices) as well!

I am so excited for this trip! This has been one of my biggest dreams for so long now, so the fact that this is actually happening is so insane to me!  I am definitely nervous to leave my family for a while, but I know that this is going to be good for me. Getting out of my comfort zone really does feel scary, but when I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone more often, I meant it. This is a big step for me, but I know I’m headed in the right direction.

I will not be blogging while I am away on my trip, but I will share my entire trip with you once I return! If you would like to keep up with my daily life, follow me on Instagram @sacchere14 (I will be posting many photos while on my trip)! Thank you for reading! Now, I’m going to go live out one of my biggest dreams! France, I’ll see you VERY soon!

Au revoir (for now)!

Exciting Announcement: Part 2 of “Saying ‘Yes’ to New Opportunities and Why You Should Never Fear Growth”

If you have been keeping up with my blog posts for a while now, you may remember that I posted that I had an exciting announcement to share in the New Year. Remember when I posted that I said yes to an exciting new opportunity? Well, today I am finally sharing what that is! Saying yes to this opportunity is leading me to one of my biggest dreams, but it was actually not an easy decision to make, and I will explain why.

First, I want to share with you all that I am going to be traveling to France over spring break! To say that I am exhilarated would be an understatement. Everyone who knows me knows that I have dreamed of going to France for such a long time now, so the fact that I am actually going doesn’t feel real just yet.

I feel very lucky to attend a school that offers amazing opportunities. I am a junior in college and my advisor recommended that I travel abroad while in school. I do not live on campus, so I have had trouble meeting people, but part of the requirement for the travel abroad program I am in is to take a course during the semester of travel. I am currently taking a class for the program called “Bonjour Ville Saine”, which means “Hello Healthy City”. We are learning about the health of the people in my city as well as the health of the people in Paris and Lyon, which are the two cities we will be traveling to. When we come back from our trip, we are going to be comparing the health of the people in these cities to my city. I think this is going to be interesting to look at because here in America, I feel that we do have a lot of issues when it comes to healthcare.

While speaking to my advisor about the different countries that I could travel to, I felt excited at the thought of traveling again. She mentioned that there were spots open to travel to Guatemala and France. I immediately perked up when she said the word “France”. The excitement quickly dissolved when I started thinking of all of the reasons I shouldn’t go. I know that this decision may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, and you may even be thinking “Why on earth wouldn’t you say yes?” but I made a list of pros and cons. My cons were a pretty big deal in my opinion, so let’s start with that.

Although I have been lucky enough to travel often, I have always done it with my family. My family and I are very close, and the thought of being away from them for more than a couple of days makes me anxious. Especially since I am going to be OUT OF THE COUNTRY. I spent some time talking to my family and my friends because I trust their opinions, and it felt like a decision that I just couldn’t make on my own. Everyone I spoke to said I should do it. They were happy for me, so why couldn’t I just say yes?

My family knows how much this trip means to me, and I was really hoping to go to France for the first time with them. I was worried that if I went on this trip without them, I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy it. I guess I was feeling guilty and a bit sad that I wouldn’t be able to live out my dream with the people who know how much it means to me. I’ve realized that even though I won’t be with my family, in some way it still feels special because I am going to experience it on my own. I will gain a lot of independence and confidence this way. Hopefully at some point in the future, I can enjoy France with my family. I may not be able to do every little thing I want to do this time around, so maybe one day I can do those things with my family by my side.

The next issue that held me back was the fact that I did not know a single person I would be traveling with. As I mentioned, my school offers many travel abroad programs. I knew I didn’t want to be alone, so I felt that IF I were to do this, I wanted it to be short term and I wanted to do it with a group of students and professors. Luckily, the trip to France is exactly that.

There are about fourteen of us going on this trip, plus our two professors, and many of the girls are Nursing (or health related) majors. I am not, but thankfully these programs allow anyone to join. I may not know the girls very well, but I am looking forward to getting to know them better. I am going to be living my dream, so it would be nice to enjoy it with other people. I also think that by traveling and experiencing this with them, it could help us bond.

I think that I was also holding back from saying yes because it was going to be quite a bit of responsibility. Although I feel like I am pretty responsible, and that I could take care of myself, I’ve never really been on my own before, so I was nervous that I wasn’t ready for it. I think that in life, we are going to feel “not ready” for many things, but I believe that it is up to ourselves to decide whether or not it is worth taking a risk. I know that this will be worth it, and that is why I said yes. Pushing myself to say yes was scary, but I think that this is exactly what I need right now.

I did have to make this decision on a bit of a deadline, so after thinking and thinking, I made my decision. I am not sure what it was that ultimately gave me the push, but I said yes, and I am so glad I did. I have been slowly getting to know the girls and the professors who are also going on this trip, and the closer this trip is getting, the more excited I feel. I guess what led me to this decision was the fact that I knew it was my dream. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go. This really is going to be a great way for me to get out of my comfort zone, and I have been trying to do this more often.

Of course I am still a bit nervous like I think most people would be, but I know that this is going to be good for me. I can’t really think of any reason why it wouldn’t be now. And hey, if this ends up being a not so great experience for me, at least I can say that I did it. And even though it may seem silly to some of you, I am proud of myself for making this decision.

I am so happy to share this news with you all! I am leaving very soon, and I will not be posting any blogs while I am on my trip, but you should keep an eye out for a post when I come back. I will be talking all about my trip to France, and I can’t wait to share the experience with you! (I may not be active on my website during my trip, but I will still be on social media, so follow me on Instagram, @sacchere14, to keep up with me and my travels)! For now, I have a few other posts to share before I go, and I’ll have plenty to share when I come back! Thank you so much for reading!

My Trip to Italy – 2015

Hey everyone! Today I wanted to talk about my family trip to Italy. In 2015, we packed our bags and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to Italy. This trip was so memorable because it was my first time in Europe and although I was only 15, I remember almost everything about this vacation. (All of the photos that I am sharing with you were either taken by me or by one of my family members.)

When my family surprised us and told us that we would be going to Italy in June of 2015, we freaked out to say the least. We were so excited for many reasons, one of which was the fact that we had dreamed of going, and since half of my family is Italian, it was exciting to imagine that we would be going to the country that my ancestors were from. The plane ride was probably the longest I had ever been on. It took about nine hours for us to get to Italy, not including the two plane rides we had to take before the one to Italy.

Our plane landed in Rome, and we quickly got on a train to Venice (we were saving Rome for last). I remember we were exhausted when we arrived, but I felt wide awake due to the excitement and the view as soon as we stepped out of the train station. I will never forget what I saw and how I felt in that moment. I felt like I had traveled back in time, and that I wasn’t even on the same planet. The view was stunning, and I couldn’t believe what was in front of me.

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

We first had to find our hotel, which we had a bit of trouble with. In Venice, there are no cars, so we walked everywhere we went in the city. It took some time walking through narrow alleys, and crossing cute little bridges with all of our luggage. We finally found the hotel and it reminded us of a dollhouse. We had two separate rooms since my family is rather large. We had beautiful weather in Venice, and I believe that it was cooler here because we were by the water. I truly did feel like I was living in a movie or another world that I was just not at all familiar with.

We did some exploring, and one thing that stood out to me was the fact that there were so many giant cathedrals and they would come out of absolutely no where. We would turn a street corner and all of a sudden there was an incredibly beautiful cathedral right in front of us. I couldn’t believe the detail of these cathedrals, and I questioned how on earth anyone could have built this. It also made me compare the architecture to that of America.

Venice, Italy

In Venice, we walked through Piazza San Marco, and at night it was lit up with bright yellow lights. I found myself getting pictures of every little thing that I saw in every city. I remember taking a photo with my older sister at Piazza San Marco, and I laughed because it looked like we photoshopped ourselves into the picture! My family decided to go on a gondola ride which was one of the highlights of the trip. That is something that many people dream of doing if they were to travel to Italy, so it was really incredible to experience it.

My family and I on a gondola in Venice, Italy.

Of course, we had to try pizza, pasta, and gelato (we ate gelato most nights and I was in heaven). I remember feeling nervous about having to communicate with the locals, but I believe many of them spoke English, at least in the cities that we traveled to. One of my favorite things about traveling is being around different people from all over the world. Hearing new languages and seeing how other people live their lives always fascinates me.

Our next stop was Pisa, where we were able to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Campo dei Miracoli (or The Square/Field of Miracles). Once again, we turned a corner and there was the leaning tower, along with the three other buildings in the complex. We got a family photo in front of the tower, and we ate lunch at a small pizza place close by. The pizza in Pisa was probably the best pizza that I tried while in Italy (it’s always the small corner restaurants that do it best)!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Pisa, Italy

Next up was Florence. We got to see the Florence Cathedral which is one of Italy’s largest, and yet again, the detail amazed me. After seeing Florence, we traveled to the coast and spent some time in Sorrento, and it was beautiful. Right across the water, we could see Naples, which is where my Grandma’s family is from. We then took a train to Pompeii and we were able to walk through the ruins of Pompeii and see some of the old artifacts. We also walked up Mount Vesuvius which erupted in 79 AD, ultimately causing the destruction of Pompeii.

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Our next stop was Amalfi, which was one of my favorite cities that we went to. Our hotel in the Amalfi Coast was gorgeous. Both of our rooms had a balcony; one with a view of the water, and one with a view of a cathedral. When I woke in the mornings, the sun was shining through the windows of the balcony, music was playing, and I could hear the crowd of people walking around below me. We also spent some time swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, and when we would turn around, we would see all of the colorful buildings sitting on the cliffs.

My siblings and I swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
Amalfi, Italy

Our final stop on this trip was of course Rome. I was so excited to be in this city because I had dreamed about it for so long. It was incredibly hot when we arrived, but I didn’t let the heat ruin my time. We waited in a very long line in front of the Vatican in Vatican City to walk through the cathedral. The Pope was there the same day, and he spoke to the crowd. When we walked in, I just could not believe everything I saw. There was so much detail, even on the ceilings. This had to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen to date.

We went to see the Trevi Fountain, and although it was under construction at the time, I still tossed a euro and made a wish! On our last day, we got to see the Colosseum. We walked up a long road full of vendors and we stopped to eat some fresh fruit on the way. The entire time we were walking, the Colosseum was in sight. There were crowds of people waiting to get in, and we somehow got lucky, and we were able to skip most of the line! As we walked around, we saw old artifacts and I thought about the history of the Colosseum. We took a family photo, and this concluded our amazing trip.

Me standing in front of the Colosseum.
Rome, Italy

Whenever I travel somewhere new, I am always fascinated by what I see (especially when traveling outside of America). I always think to myself how amazing it would be to live in a place like Italy. The fact that people may walk by the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa every day, amazes me. The people who live in Paris may walk by the Eiffel Tower every day. The people who live in London may walk by Big Ben every day. Tourists may stop to take photos and get in the local’s way. I think that sometimes we forget to appreciate what surrounds us. I do not live anywhere glamorous, but when I travel I get to leave my home and explore and appreciate new places. Italy stole my heart the second I walked out of that train station, and if I could go back every year, I would. I know I’ll go back one day.

Thank you for reading. Italy will always have a special place in my heart. I will never forget this trip. Leave me a comment below and tell me about your favorite vacation, or your favorite place in the world, whether it is in your city, or all the way across the world.

My First Cruise/Trip to Alaska – 2019

This past summer, my family went on a cruise to Alaska. It was our first cruise so we didn’t really know what to expect. Today I wanted to share my first cruise experience with you, and talk a bit about the highlights of our trip!

In June, my family and I packed our bags and left to the airport to leave for Vancouver, Canada, which was where we were going to board our cruise. We spent a day and a half in this gorgeous city, and we used that time to explore the city (mostly) by foot. The day when we had to board our cruise was so exciting and a little nerve wracking for me. As soon as we got on the boat people were already sitting by the pool or drinking at the bar! Music was playing and of course, photos were already being taken. One thing that I loved was that there were people from all over the world on this cruise (mostly America, but it was still very cool to be around people from different places). I think that this is one of my favorite parts of travel in general!

The first thing we wanted to do was check out our rooms and explore the ship. We cruised with Norwegian, and our ship was the “Norwegian Jewel”, and it was a really beautiful boat. Walking around the ship for the first time, we saw quite a few restaurants, the buffet, a couple clubs, a casino, lounge areas, and of course, the heated pools and the Jacuzzi! Soon after boarding, we left Vancouver and made our way up to Alaska. For the first two days of our cruise, we were staying on the boat, which meant no cell phones (I’m not going to lie, this was not too easy for me)!  Every day we got an itinerary of events going on around the ship. There was so much to do in just one day, that I felt like I couldn’t attend every event that I wanted to! My sister and I attended a girl’s spa day where the women from the spa explained the importance of having a skincare routine, and they taught us about the products we should use daily. They walked around and gave each of us a sample of the products and my sister and I basically did a complete skincare routine with the rest of the women in the room which was pretty fun! We also spent some time in the arcade, we entered all of the raffles and free giveaways that we could, and we went to the theater almost every night. The performers were really incredible, and I always looked forward to the shows. I made sure to bring a nice dress for dinner one night, and on the same day we took a photo with the captain. I also really enjoyed the food on our cruise, and I liked the fact that any time you wanted to eat, there was a variety of food around. Something that surprised me was the fact that I could actually FEEL the boat rocking when we were out at sea, and not surrounded by land. It freaked me out just a little. None of us got sick, but it was definitely a strange feeling that even by the end of our cruise, I don’t think I got used to.

On the third day of our cruise, it was time to get off and explore our first stop, Ketchikan. Ketchikan is a very small city, so we spent our time walking around and we took a tram up a mountainside. The next day, we got to Juneau, which is the capital of Alaska and one of my favorite cities that we visited on this trip. It rains so often in Juneau and I made sure to let my family know this, but to my surprise, it was a gorgeous, warm, and sunny day. We got pretty lucky. We walked around the city, had lunch, and we went whale watching which was one of the highlights on this trip. We went on a small boat that would fit about 20 people, and we saw whales, orcas, and sea lions! Our next stop was Skagway which was the cutest little town. The buildings and the setup reminded me of an old western town. We explored the town and went on a hike as well. After the hike, my siblings and I went to get some ice cream.

Ketchikan, Alaska
Skagway, Alaska

The last two days of our cruise were glacier viewing days. We were able to see Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay, and Hubbard Glacier. On these days, we woke up early and sipped some hot chocolate while we crowded around the front of the boat to get a good view of the glaciers. My sister and I decided to take advantage of the various opportunities on the boat and with the free time that we had, we went to the gym! What I didn’t realize was that I would feel the rocking of the boat while I was lifting weights (I’m telling you I could not get used to it)! I typically do not work out while on vacation, but I decided to do it since it was there and we had some time. On the last day, besides seeing Hubbard Glacier, my family FINALLY got in the Jacuzzi! There were always people rushing to them and we didn’t get a chance until the final day. I thought I’d be freezing walking around in a bikini while we were in the middle of the ocean, but I didn’t get cold until I got out of the Jacuzzi and sat around for a while.

Hubbard Glacier

After these two days, our cruise came to an end in Seward. Although I was sad to get off of the boat, I was excited to explore Alaska with my family for another week. In Seward, we took a hike to see Living Glacier and after this, we took a train to Anchorage. This was another favorite city of mine. It was a bit of a bigger city, which I enjoyed after being in somewhat smaller cities on the trip. We walked around, had lunch, and of course took a million photos.

On the way to our final city, we made a stop to do something that we had no idea we were going to do. We went on a small airplane to go see Denali. It was a private plane with my family and one other small family. Of course I was a little nervous, but it was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced, and it was obviously one of the highlights. We all had to wear snow boots and sunglasses. When the plane landed, we took some beautiful photos. We learned that Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America, and it was in the background of all of the photos we took at this spot.

Denali National Park & Preserve

The next day, we woke up really early to catch a bus to take into Denali National Park. The park was massive, and we spent almost the entire day exploring. We would get off the bus at different stops, take photos and walk around, then we would get back on the bus to drive some more. We saw some bears, caribou, and moose while on the drive as well. A few of us went on a somewhat intense hike up a small mountain in the park, and the view from the top was breathtaking. We were also able to see an example of a sled dog race, and attend a short information session on this. The last highlight of our trip was when we went white water rafting!

Denali National Park & Preserve

Lastly, we arrived in Fairbanks. Our final day was more relaxing (I actually caught a pretty bad cold after Denali, so I was not feeling up to doing very much). We had such great weather for the entire trip, which surprised me because I had read about how often it rained in Alaska. The next day we caught our flight and we were heading home! I am so incredibly grateful that I am able to travel often and with the people I love the most in this world. These are the experiences that I will never forget. I hope to share more of my travels with you, and I hope you enjoyed reading about my first cruise experience and my vacation to Alaska! (More photos from this trip are on my Instagram! Scroll down a little on my page to see them!)

Cruise Do’s and Don’ts

The Norwegian Jewel

This past Summer, I went on a cruise to Alaska with my family. I’m definitely not a cruise expert (it was only my first cruise) but I discovered certain things about cruising that may be useful to you or someone you know!

DO: order an appetizer and a dessert (if it’s included, you might as well)!

DON’T: only eat at the buffet. There are multiple restaurants that may be included, so check them out! Although the buffet can be great because it has a variety of foods, try heading over to one of the restaurants! (Just be careful about how much you’re eating. Sometimes I didn’t even realize that I was eating when I wasn’t even that hungry!)

DO: talk to people! It may not be too often that you get to go on a cruise, or maybe it is! Either way, try to meet new people. I met someone who works in a field very similar to my college major and he gave me helpful advice. Another man that my family spoke to had really incredible stories to tell, and he was traveling alone.

DON’T: be the person who hogs the Jacuzzi (we were very lucky to get in there once)!

DO: pack accordingly. If you’re on a Caribbean cruise, packing for this trip may be fairly easy. However, if you’re heading to Alaska, LAYERING is my best tip.

DON’T: be the person who ruins dinner. On our cruise, there was a restaurant that we went to where there was a dress code. Before you even leave for your trip, make sure to pack an outfit for a fancy dinner night.

DO: remember to check with your cell phone carrier for information and rates if you’re not buying a Wi-Fi package on board.

DON’T: stay on the boat and sleep all day when you stop at a port. GO explore! See what’s out there. For my family, if you stayed on the boat to sleep you were 100% getting left behind, so go! You may never get another chance!

DO: plan excursions ahead of time. It can be more expensive to plan an excursion while on the boat, so pre-planning is always a good idea! Or, do what my family did, and plan your own adventures (in advance of course)! We were able to go whale watching and hiking and we did it on our own time. Just make sure you are back at the boat on time!

DON’T: forget sunscreen! I guess I thought that I wouldn’t need to wear too much sunscreen in Alaska. Needless to say, I was wrong! I only wore it a couple of times, but a few of my family members, myself included, got a bit sunburned on this trip!

DO: attend as many raffles and events as you can! My sister and I attended a girl’s spa day event where we got to do our own facials for free and get tips from the experts! We also went to the theater almost every night and we went to check out the clubs on board as well!

DON’T: forget your cruise card. You will need to use it as ID, to get on and off the boat, to make reservations, to make purchases, and it is your room key, so DON’T lose it! Keep it on you at all times!

DO: be polite to the cruise staff members.

And lastly…

DON’T: leave anything on the boat. I left a hair straightener in our room, and my Mom was not too happy with me. Double check your room before you go!

Thank you for reading! I hope that you found some of these do’s and don’ts helpful for your next cruise! Leave me a comment below and tell me if you’ve ever been on a cruise and where you went, or where you would want to go!

Creating “Compass to Confidence”

Those closest to me know that I have always had a passion for writing. As a little girl I would write in a diary often and before I could even fill up one journal, I had already bought my next one (I am almost positive that none of those journals were ever filled completely). I would write about my days; what I did, the friends I saw, etc. As I have gotten older, I have changed so much and so has my writing. For me personally, writing has been my way of reflecting on the things that I have learned/am learning. We are human, and we are always growing and learning. No matter what I am going through, I always like to keep a positive mindset and writing has helped me with this so much. Have you ever read something and it stuck with you? Or you felt like you understood exactly what the author was saying? When I read poetry or work written by other people, I often feel a connection. The thing I love the most about writing is that you don’t have to speak to connect with people. This connection that I often feel has inspired me and made me want to help others as well. If I could live my life helping people through my writing, I would feel extremely fulfilled. I decided to call my blog “Compass to Confidence” because something that I’ve struggled with, and continue to struggle with at times, is self confidence. Although I am a much more confident person than I used to be, I am not where I would like to be just yet. I created this blog to help others and to share the ways that my passions have led me to become a more confident woman. I am still becoming the person that I am meant to be, and I would love it if we helped guide each other in the direction of confidence and self-love.

What I Wear:

I have loved beauty and fashion for as long as I can remember, and it is still something I adore to this day. Over the years I have learned how to dress myself properly for any and all occasions. On a budget? No problem! Don’t forget that I am a college student who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on my clothing (although I do still want to look put together and fashionable). My main focus will be on my favorite affordable clothing stores! I plan on sharing new purchases, ootds (outfit of the days), styling tips, and so much more!

Here and There:

There is absolutely no feeling like traveling somewhere new, and I am grateful to get to experience that feeling often. Over the years I have been lucky enough to travel with my family and I have seen so many beautiful places. I plan on sharing travel tips and tricks, and telling stories about my past vacations. It is a goal of mine to travel as much as I can in my life, and my dream vacation is Paris! Although travel may not seem like it can make a person that much more confident, seeing the world has definitely made me feel very appreciative and more aware of other cultures.

Makeup and Hair:

I fell in love with makeup at a very young age. Every Christmas I was given a Barbie or Bratz makeup kit and my go-to look was chalky blue eye shadow, bright pink blush, and a deep red lip (thank god things have changed)! Around the age of 10 I discovered the beauty community on YouTube and learned everything I needed to know from the popular beauty gurus. (Anyone remember Juicystar07 or Macbarbie07?!) I began to wear makeup more often, and I have made all of the beginner mistakes. I wore foundation that was too dark and too light. I did not blend my eyeshadows enough. I was way too rough when removing my makeup. Skip to present day, where I am still just as makeup obsessed, however, I now feel much more confident in my makeup abilities (granted, I am still learning how to perfect a few different looks). I will be giving beauty tips, reviewing beauty products, and teaching you how to create the perfect everyday makeup look (among many other things)!

I would also like to mention that drugstore brands are typically what I purchase, so the products that I share with you will be affordable!

Entertainment to Share:

I am very much in tune with pop culture and I love following celebrities and keeping up to date on new music and movies/TV shows. I am constantly listening to music and finding new songs to workout to, and I love the way that art can connect with so many people across the world.  I plan to share posts that relate to my current music faves, movies/TV shows, and books I’ve been loving! Entertainment is another interest of mine that may not bring me a ton of confidence, however I think it will be fun to share my interests and find people out there who are interested in similar music, books, movies/TV shows as me! (I am a big Top 40s fan, and pop music is my favorite, but I do listen to and enjoy many different genres of music, so stick around!)

Fitness and Self-Care:

 In February of 2016, I began my fitness journey and I fell in love with weight lifting thanks to my Dad. He taught me everything that I needed to know about training.  My overall health has become very important to me over the past few years and it has changed my life for the better. I want to share my fitness journey with you, and I plan on giving tips for my fellow gym goers, healthy meal ideas, and ways to take care of your mind, body, and soul. (Focusing on my overall health has been one of the biggest steps I took that led me to becoming much more confident!)

Grab a Chair:

For this section of my blog, I plan on sharing many of my random thoughts. When I write about my feelings, I could go on forever, but I’ll try to keep it somewhat short for you. I sometimes feel that I have a better way with words when I am writing rather than speaking. If you care to read some of my deeper and slightly more personal thoughts, feel free to check this section out, and I hope that you feel a connection.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first post, “Creating ‘Compass to Confidence’”! I would appreciate it if you would like this post and share with your friends! Don’t forget to subscribe to be notified when I post something new! I can’t wait for you to come on this journey with me!