To Making New Friends | London 2016

sunset-view
My view from the Shard, London

I surprised myself over the past few days by putting in the extra effort to meet new people. I already have one group of interns here to hang out with, but I’ve always been the person with multiple friend groups—so it’s been hard over the past week and a half to adjust!

I had my first ‘couch surfing experience’ on Sunday. This is quite the cool app; it isn’t limited to people who are looking for a place to stay. The ‘events’ section allows you to see what’s going on near you, organized by other couchsurfers.

This is a place full of people who want to meet other travellers, or locals, and try new experiences! I went for a 8k run through Hyde park (my first time being there) with a super friendly guy who had been in London for six years already.

It’s a fresh perspective to hear stories from a local. We had a great time, I pet some swans—and got a bit of exercise in too!

On a different note, I also met up with a new group of girls the next evening. One girl coincidentally moved here the same day as me, is from Ottawa (like me) and is getting into a similar field that I want to pursue.

And this connection all began through me reading her blog a few months ago! So she organized a group hangout, with other new girls, and we met up in person for the first time at the Aqua Shard (the 32nd floor of the Shard).

After some photography sessions, we moved onward to another (less expensive) restaurant for fish and chips!

What a great past few days it’s been. I hope to be as busy as possible for the next little while! I’m always happiest with an full schedule.

Anyone else love meeting new people, but find it challenging to get things started? I’d love to hear! 

Advertisements

Going Out More Often (GOMO) | Travel

vauxhall-bridge-1422910_960_720

The past year hasn’t succumbed to much going out for me. Saving money to travel and intern abroad has taken its toll! Both by not having money to spend on events, or time to try new things due to work.

This is all about to change!

In less than two weeks I will officially be living in London, interning for 4 months and travelling around on weekends.

As my social hibernation comes to an end, I’d like to share just what I have in store for the first few weeks of my internship!

1. Afternoon Tea 

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 10.41.56 PM
Bea’s Cake Boutique

Such a quintessential British experience! The first weekend of my internship, there is a tea-going experience at Bea’s of Bloomsbury planned for us interns. Fancy drinks, sandwiches and deserts are to be expected!

How delicious do those treats look?

Photo Credit: Bea’s Cake Boutique

2. Secret Gardens of London

Now, I know these may not actually be secret; but a lovely Vogue UK article alerted me of their presence. It’s always great to know the non touristy places, perfect for capturing special pictures or just enjoying some quiet in a busy city.

Photo Credit: Vogue UK

3. Cliffs of Moher | Ireland

cliffs-of-moher-1282007_960_720

A close friend of mine from university is randomly starting her Master’s program in Cork, Ireland when I’m starting my internship in London, England. What a perfect chance to get together and spend a weekend trip sight-seeing!

I’d love to see the Cliff’s of Moher, as the area looks stunning. There are various day packages that include transportation.

5. The British Museum 

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 11.19.53 PM
The British Museum, London

One classic tourist destination is the British Museum. I love walking through museums and galleries in general, so I’m expecting to have a great time in a place with so much culture!

You might catch me here more than once casually strolling along, or sitting on those fancy white steps, people-watching.

4. Networking Events

Always liking to be prepared, I scheduled different networking events related to beauty/fashion/PR into my calendar.

Eventbrite has been my main supply for these events! You can even track your events with their online RSVP page. It’s a great resource for different cities, wherever your location.

For instance, there are events for bloggers like #BloggersFestival and Bloggers Xmas! Now try and tell me those don’t sound like fun.

I hope I’ve inspired some of you to try new things and get out of your comfort zone! You never know who you might meet.

I mean . . .

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 11.44.43 PM
“The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.” —Benedict Cumberbatch

Photo Credit: Pinterest

If you know of any cool things to do in London, let me know! I’ll be living in Zone 1 this fall.

5 Ways to Save Money for Travel

Travelling abroad isn’t cheap. Add an unpaid internship to the mix and you’re really asking for a tight budget!

I’ll be abroad during the fall and return home for Christmas with (hopefully) many amazing stories and trinkets to share with friends and family.

But how do you save enough to live in London and travel to multiple countries when you aren’t getting paid?

Tip #1: Plan ahead and work as much as possible until you leave

I knew I wanted to go abroad almost one entire year ago. Since then I have been working mostly full-time in retail while volunteering on my days off to keep up with my work experience.

Working so much does get rough. When you work irregular shifts, it’s hard to sleep at the same time every night which can lead to painful mornings (though caffeine does help).

If you can push past the fatigue, you’re one step closer to funding your trip!

Tip #2: Do NOT spend money unless absolutely necessary 

Rent & Food

I am lucky to not have to pay rent yet as I still live at home. I also don’t pay for food. In the past year I remember I bought one bag of chips, and aside from a few dinners with friends, that was it. This was hard!

Saying no to buying material items

Buying clothes, technology or other things you would love to have just isn’t in the cards right now. Ingraining this into your head is important, since believing you will one day be able to afford these things is comforting.

Use what you do have sparingly

So of course you have to buy toiletries like shampoo and soap—you may be frugal but you have to stay clean! However, I tended to bend the rules a little and really push the boundaries between cleanliness and downright slovenly mess.

I saved on my makeup. How? I didn’t wear any! I saved on shampoo and conditioner by going to the dollar store.

I had this rule going for a while that anything I bought had to be on sale. (This made for very long shopping trips.) Be cautious and you will save money.

Tip #3: Ask Parents or Relatives

Now this I did not do (see below) as I was adamant from the start that I would figure out a way to do this on my own without burdening my parents or relatives. Plus, it has been a great budgeting adventure! However, I have read travel fund stories of using birthday or Christmas money.

Tip #4: Loan or Line of Credit

Ask me one year ago what the difference between a loan and line of credit was and I couldn’t tell you! But now, with endless research and financial advisor meetings, I do.

Here is a basic description of the differences between loans and lines of credit. I went with a student line of credit, which for me, has a 4.2% interest rate.

It was a long process to get approved, and since I didn’t have a credit score since I had never used a credit card, I needed someone to co-sign my loan. This was hard for me at first to accept since I wanted to be 100% self-reliant.

Fortunately, one of my parents was able to co-sign for me, which means that they are also responsible should I miss any payments. If payments are missed, your credit score and your co-signer’s credit score can be affected.

Tip #5: Try not to feel bad for skipping social events

Movie at your place? See you there! Going out? Not so much.

It doesn’t feel great to turn down your friends when they bring up ideas to hang out. However, you can always offer an alternative that doesn’t cost any money and see what they say.

I did go out for a few special occasion dinners, but turned down other offers that I could not fit in the budget. Stay focussed on your trip! Fear Of Missing Out will pass.

BONUS TIP

Now this may be obvious, but you need to create a budget—for your time spent saving and time spent travelling. I went all out and made a business plan to show my parents when I told them my future plans. There may have been pie charts.

Find what is comfortable for you and get all your information in one space. I also used word documents to visualize the numbers; there are also budgeting apps available.

That’s it for now! Let me know if you have any questions about saving money or any tips of your own!

To Journal or Not to Journal? | Travel

I’ve been researching the past few days on personal experiences related to travel in the UK. I found this great website, Rick Steves Travel Form, that has daily questions and answers about travel in England.

It has been great to read what locals think of certain spots in London, as well as experienced travellers. Amidst the posts, I came across a comment that linked to a travel journal by a woman whose first trip solo was in London.

Since I’m going in less than a month and leaving on my own, I figured I should check it out! The blog is by Deborah Guber and titled The Independent Traveler | The wayfaring journals of a single woman making her way through Europe, one city at a time.

Reading through her daily journeys made me think that I could do that too, especially to serve as a memory keep-sake for years down the line.

It might be overly ambitious to think it’s possible to create these logs on top of my twice per week posts and the fact that I will be interning full-time in London and travelling on my weekends.

I’m not sure, but it would be amazing if I could pull it off! If anyone else travel blogs or  knows of any good ones—feel free to comment links! I love getting inspiration from reading what people have done.

Goals, Plans, Success | London 2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 6.29.29 PM

So everything is coming together for my trip in exactly one month! I called my phone provider today to find out the details of paying my device balance, cancelling my contract and unlocking my phone.

To my surprise, I spoke with a lovely person who clarified the process and took as many times as it needed for me to feel 100% confident on what I needed to do.

Since I will be arriving in London (UK) the day before my internship starts, I went ahead and ordered a UK SIM card off eBay with the carrier o2. Now I have a number that will work over there, and I can make business cards ahead of time which is one less thing to worry about. I want to spend as much time over there having a great time, not fussing over details!

Other than that, I am really excited to start my placement and get my foot in the right doors. I plan on blogging throughout my stay—expect a lot more travel posts! I can’t wait to start using my new mirrorless camera (Sony a500), of which I blogged about here.

Stay tuned, and let me know if any of you will be moseying around England this fall! I hope to visit many other cities other than London on the weekends—it’s so hard to choose between them all!

If you had to choose, what city would you visit in all of the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales) and why?

 

Switzerland Skywalk

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 7.48.03 PM
Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix

Imagine what it would be like to be standing on glass, staring out into the distant mountains of Chamonix, Switzerland. How cool would that be?

I might have the opportunity to experience such an adventure on my upcoming trip. I was thinking that right before Christmas I would pop on over to Paris and afterword mosey my way to Switzerland for some fresh air in the Alps.

Mont Blanc looks like a wonderful crash course into the potential that Switzerland has to offer. Not to mention it has the Aiguille du Midi skywalk!

We don’t have intense mountains in Ottawa, so visiting such a different terrain would be amazing. Has anyone else considered the lofty heights of Switzerland? How is the German over there?

The scenery alone looks worth the trip.