Category: Travel

Denver, CO

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Eric and I returned from our little trip to Denver about a week ago, but it’s taken me a while to figure out what I wanted to write about it. Unlike other weekend getaways I went on while I studied abroad or long weekends I’ve spent in U.S. cities like Boston and LA, I don’t feel the need to create a big write up about where I ate, what I saw, and what I recommend to other visitors as if I’m an expert on the city after spending 72 hours in it.

Our trip to Denver was different than these other trips. I didn’t really have a checklist of things I must do, food I must eat, or place I just have to see. I really just wanted to experience the city, go to a brewery, and go on at least one “outdoorsy” adventure. Well I’m happy to say I did all of those things and more, but like I said, I don’t want this post to be a “review” of Denver or a “guide” to the next Denver visitor. Because to be honest, Denver really isn’t that kind of city…which is why I loved it so much.

First, Denver is nothing like New York. If you’ve been following me on Instagram and keeping up with The Pace, you know that my favorite thing to write about is how much I love living in New York (Exhibit A and B), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great to get out of this hustle and bustle for a few days to experience a totally different vibe. While New York is busy and chaotic, Denver is chill and friendly. People actually talk to each other on public transportation…and they’re not even asking for money!! (I know, I was very confused at first, too…). People in Denver have a humble pride in their city, appreciating the natural beauty, culture, and fun it has to offer, while recognizing the charm (and limitations) of it’s smaller size relative to other major U.S. cities.

Eric and I experienced many sides of Denver. We partied with what felt like the entire population downtown on the Rockies’ Opening Day, hiked up a glacier, explored a couple of breweries, got our butts kicked by the altitude during our morning runs (they don’t call it the “Mile High City” for nothing), and ventured in and out of art galleries on Santa Fe during First Friday. The weather was incredibly beautiful and seeing the Rocky Mountains in the distance never ceased to take our breath away. Needless to say, “OMG Eric, I LOVE DENVER!” become my catchphrase on the trip.

If you’re heading to Denver, I’m happy to offer recommendations about good places to eat, cool coffee shops to try, and which neighborhoods to explore (seriously, hit me up!). But after spending 5 days there, I realized Denver deserves more than a guidebook or Yelp review page. It’s an experience. It’s a “vibe.” It’s a culture…one that I highly recommend you experience for yourself.

Thanks for sharing the chill vibes, Denver. I think it’s safe to say that I will be back. 🙂

xo,

Tatum

California Dreamin’

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Every time the temperatures drop, “I want to move to California!!” becomes my slogan (just ask my boyfriend or any of my friends…). Although I’m not sure how serious that proclamation is, California has still been on my list as a place to visit for quite some time. My California Dreamin’ was finally made a reality a couple weeks ago when my boyfriend, Eric, and I traveled across the country to visit our friend, Tommy (the saint who hosted us all week!), in Los Angeles.

Landing in LA was like entering an entirely different world. First of all, the constant sunshine, perfect 70s temperature, and zero humidity weather definitely felt nice compared to the heat wave we have been suffering through on the east coast this summer and made our morning runs feel like a breeze. Second, the difference in transportation took a lot of getting used to. We are accustomed to walking and taking public transportation from place to place, but in LA, driving or ordering an Uber is the norm. We still managed to log a lot of steps though, as we prefer exploring on foot, but we definitely noticed the emptiness of the sidewalks in comparison to New York or Philly.

After we started adjusted to these differences, LA began to really grow on us. One of our favorite things to do is explore neighborhoods and pick out our favorite houses, so we loved running and walking through Tommy’s neighborhood, gazing at the gorgeous homes and landscaping. We also fell in love with a healthy café called Kreation which we visited every morning of our trip (the avocado toast is to die for!). Each day, we planned a new adventure: walking through Venice Beach and down the Santa Monica Pier, hiking up Griffith Park for the gorgeous (albeit smoggy!) views, bringing a picnic of wine and cheese to a jazz fest at the Hollywood bowl, or braving the craziness and crowds of Hollywood to get a quick photo on the Walk of Stars. We filled our nights with delicious meals, like our favorite at Beverly Soon Tofu in Korea Town and fun nights out in the city.

On the last full day of our stay in Cali, we drove to Santa Barbara, the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in the United States. The beach, trees, and views of the mountains and ocean were absolutely breath taking. Every shop and restaurant on the streets, even the Chipotle, had an adorable and charming aesthetic. We spent much of the afternoon in what felt like a European village full of small, family-owned wineries, where we tasted incredible wine and chatted with the owners and employees. It was the perfect day trip to end our visit to the west coast.

It was bittersweet to make our way back across the country. Yes, I had to start checking my weather app again for the first time in a week (goodbye to perfect weather every day), but I was happy to get back to the convenience of the New York subway and away from the LA traffic. I’m not sure I will ever move to LA, but I really enjoyed the visit and am looking forward to my next trip to the west coast.

What was in my suitcase: Forever 21 Maried Knit Top, Forever 21 Crossbody Bag, H&M Off-the-Shoulder Top, Irresistible Me Professional Hair Straightener, Ray Ban Clubmaster Aluminum Flash LensesUniqlo Leggings Pants

Weekend in Boston

There are certain places in this world that are extraordinarily loved. One mention of it and the eyes of its residents and even previous visitors light up, followed by choruses of praises. Not many cities are lucky enough to earn this type of treatment, but for years, I’ve noticed Boston is one of the lucky few. People love Boston. Until this past weekend, I was curious what made it so incredible, as I had never been there. Finally, my curiosities and questions were put to rest while I explored this beloved city with my wonderful friend, Anika.

Anika has been Boston’s number one fan since I first met her at Villanova, so I knew I was extremely lucky to have her as my tour guide for the weekend. She lives in Back Bay, so first we explored her neighborhood, stopping to check out the farmers’ market in Copley Square, taking in the beautiful and historic Trinity Church, and looking at all the shops and restaurants on Newbury Street. I was blown away by the beautiful gardens and pond at the Public Gardens and loved people watching through Boston Commons. It didn’t take long for this city to work its magic on me. After a few minutes of walking around and taking in the lovely architecture, clean streets, and gorgeous parks, I understood why people love this place so much, and I knew I was in for one amazing visit.

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Next, we made our way to the North End, and sought shelter from the scorching heat sitting under the shade. Taking in the calm water, rocking sail boats, and happy people around me, I felt the peaceful energy of this city.

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After miles of walking in the 90 degree weather, we decided it was time for a cold drink. We stopped in at Ned Devine’s Irish Pub in Faneuil Hall for drinks and curry fries. Continuing our conversations from the day, we caught up on our lives and reminisced about funny moments and memories from our not-so-long-ago days in college.

Weekend in Boston | The Pace

For dinner, we found a new Italian restaurant in the North End called Scopa. We ordered red wine and split scallops and a margherita pizza. The service was excellent and the food was delicious and affordable. I definitely recommend trying out this new spot in Boston’s Italian neighborhood!

Weekend in Boston | The Pace

On Saturday, we woke up ready for another day of exploration. We started the day at The Met Back Bay for brunch and a Bloody Mary bar. The drinks and food were delicious and the atmosphere was adorable. I definitely recommend the Met if you’re looking for a fun weekend brunch (especially a boozy one 😉 ).

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After brunch, we walked along the Charles River. On this sunny Saturday morning, the people of Boston were out and about: sunbathing on the dock, running and biking along the river, and enjoying their gorgeous city. It wasn’t even noon yet, and Day 2 was already looking fantastic.

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Anika and I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and headed up to her apartment’s rooftop pool. Soon, our friend, Connor, joined us for an afternoon of sunning, laughing, and catching up. After we had all the sun and heat we could take, we headed back downstairs to cool off and get ready for the evening.

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That night, we took the T to Cambridge and walked around Harvard Square before getting dinner at Border Café. The meal was incredible. A huge restaurant with huge portions and margaritas to match 😉 There’s nothing better than friends, margs, and guacamole; I thought I might explode from happiness (or maybe I just had one too many Swordfish tacos!). Border Café has great prices, food, and portions—certainly would go back again!

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After dinner, we needed to walk off our full stomachs, so we strolled around Harvard’s campus. I would be lying if I said I didn’t quote Legally Blonde at least a few times 😉 As the sun began to set, we made our way to a rooftop bar called Daedalus to enjoy the beautiful summer night, a bottle of Cabernet, and great conversation. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
Weekend in Boston | The Pace

Sunday morning’s arrival was bittersweet. I just started falling in love with this incredible city and was not ready to leave it! But thinking back on the wonder weekend I had with such amazing friends, makes me smile. And now, the mystery has been solved. I finally understand the immense love so many have for Boston. The special love is more than deserved, because this city is more than special. I can’t wait for my next visit.

Weekend in Boston | The Pace

Any recommendations for my next trip to Boston? Help a girl out!

xo,

Tatum

New Orleans

I just returned from 5 incredible days in the Big Easy. New Orleans is unlike any city I have ever visited, and it has totally stolen my heart. First, the city has no open container laws, which means I can buy a Bloody Mary from Erin Rose and walk around Bourbon Street, sipping and enjoying the live jazz music on every corner. Second, you won’t hear Justin Bieber, T-Swift, or other Top 40 artists at bars and clubs in New Orleans. Instead, you will experience live jazz music everywhere you go; once you’re out of earshot of one band, you will start hearing the humming trumpet of another.

There is so much to experience in New Orleans, so to make things easier, I have decided to break it down into 3 main categories: food, drinks, and main attractions. Read on to learn more about one of the most exciting and interesting cities I have ever explored!

FOOD:

Ye Olde College Inn

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After a long day of traveling, my friends and I were hungry for a great meal. Our dining experience at Ye Olde College Inn was the perfect start to our trip. Our server, Jimmy, welcomed us to New Orleans with all of the southern charm and hospitality we could ever dream of. I ordered the Fresh Catch, which I highly recommend. Ye Olde College Inn is a bit out of the way of the French Quarter, but it is worth the journey.

Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar

New Orleans | The Pace

Felix’s is the perfect dining location in the French Quarter. With affordable prices and amazing food, this restaurant is worth the wait in line for a table (pro tip: grab a drink and sip while you wait 😉 ).

Café Beignet vs. Café Du Monde 

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If you tell someone you’re going to the New Orleans, chances are they will reply, “You must go to Café Du Monde!” Café Du Monde is famous for their beignets, a French doughnut drenched in powdered sugar. My friends and I were also told Café Beignet was worth a try, so we decided to try both because you can never have too many beignets, right? After indulging in the fried, powdery goodness, the consensus of the group was a win for Café Beignet. The atmosphere is more enjoyable: quaint and enjoyable, compared to the more overwhelming Café Du Monde. The beignets at Café Beignet were also much fluffier and fresher. My advice would be to try both, because more beignets equals more fun.

Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar

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Superior Seafood is A.MAZ.ING. $3 frozen mimosas and a menu full of New Orleans style breakfast and lunch options including Oysters Benedict (my choice), Crab Cake Benedict, Fried Alligator, and Shrimp and Grits. The prices are reasonable, especially for the high quality of the food. My group gives it 5 stars all around!

The Warehouse Grill

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This is a great option for before or after a trip to the World War II Museum (which I recommend and will discuss later!). Just a short walk away from the museum, The Warehouse Grill is a relaxed restaurant serving New Orleans classics like the Shrimp Creole Po’Boy (my choice), the Morning After Burger (served on jalapeño bread), and an Alligator Sausage Combo. The fantastic, filling food and large variety of beers on tap was just what we needed after touring the WWII Museum.

Dat Dog 

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You might question a local chain with a menu full of hot dogs and fries, but Dat Dog was a huge highlight of our trip. Dat Dog serves Kielbasa, Crawfish Etouffee dogs, and even has vegan dogs! Toppings are unlimited and the dogs are served on a mouth-watering toasted bun (which is also vegan!). I highly recommend splitting a serving of the seasoned fries with a friend and enjoying a cold beer along with your dog. Dat Dog has several locations throughout New Orleans, so you really have no excuse to pass up on this incredible experience.

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Antoine’s is the oldest restaurant in New Orleans and arguably, in the entire country. Historical and classy, with huge dining rooms, a bar, and private rooms, Antoine’s is a fantastic dining experience. Pro-tip: book a private room for lunch! The restaurant offers several themed private rooms available for reservation to anyone at no extra cost. The restaurant also offers an amazing lunch special of a three-course meal for only $20.16 (for the year!) and 25 cent drinks. When you take advantage of this amazing deal, go for the Oysters and Shrimp and Grits!

Jacque-Imo’s 

New Orleans | The Pace

Jacque-Imo’s is a New Orleans must! Separated from the central part of the city in Uptown, this restaurant is totally worth a visit. You’ll start off with a heavenly combo of cornbread and garlic bread, which will get you ready for the amazing food that is to come. Each entree comes with a side salad and two sides of your choice, so make sure you arrive hungry! The Stuffed Catfish I had one of the best things I have ever eaten (the photo above does it no justice!). Jacque-Imo’s is located right next to the popular jazz club, the Maple Leaf (discussed below), which makes it the perfect dinner choice before a jazz show. And don’t wait until the last minute to make reservations; Jacque-Imo’s fills up fast!

DRINKS:

The Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s 

New Orleans | The Pace

One of the most famous bars in New Orleans, Pat O’Brien’s offers both a laid-back indoor bar setting and a lively outdoor bar and patio. Pat O’s is the birthplace of the Hurricane, a cocktail with rum and grenadine, so definitely be sure to give it a try. The atmosphere at Pat O’s is so fun, one visit wasn’t enough for our crew. This is definitely a must on your New Orleans check list.

Irish Coffee and Bloody Mary at Erin Rose 

New Orleans | The Pace

Erin Rose is famous for the Irish Coffee and Bloody Mary. It’s a small Irish pub, so if it’s too packed or the weather is especially gorgeous, order a drink to go (remember, no open container laws!) and take a stroll around Bourbon Street.

The Hand Grenade at The Tropical Isle

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These drinks are as monstrous as they look. Served in a tall green container, you will find these drinks in the hands of Bourbon Street visitors at all hours of the day. If the full size is too intimidating, go for a small. Regardless, these drinks are a Big Easy classic, so you have to give them a try!

Other famous New Orleans drinks that are definitely worth a try are the French 75 (my favorite!!), Pimm’s Cup, and the Sazerac.

MAIN ATTRACTIONS:

The French Quarter

Bourbon Street is a one-of-a-kind place. I have never experienced a strip more lively and full of excitement at any time of day or night. This is the most “touristy” area in New Orleans, so you will be sure to find colorful beads, large drinks, and tons of jazz music. Another exciting and lively spot in the city is Frenchmen Street, which is a bit less touristy than Bourbon. Go to Frenchmen to hear some of the best and most entertaining jazz music and hop from bar to club to experience the entire street.

The Garden District

New Orleans has some of the most gorgeous houses I have ever seen. If you asked me to choose my favorite, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Grab you camera and take a stroll around the Garden District or ride the Street Car up St. Charles Avenue for a scenic view.

World War II Museum

The WWII Museum is an important and informative stop for any New Orleans tourist. The museum offers an interactive, personal experience where you can follow the story of a real person throughout the museum.

Audubon Park/”The Fly”

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Audubon Park, located across from Tulane University and behind the Audubon Zoo is a gorgeous place to walk and relax. My friends and I spent hours walking through the park toward “The Fly,” a stretch right along the Mississippi River. After spending time in exciting (and somewhat overwhelming) Bourbon Street, Audubon Park is the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature.

Haunted History Tour

New Orleans’ history is full of voodoo, ghosts, and vampires, and there’s no better place to hear about the haunted tales than right where they are said to have happened. My group decided to take the 5 in 1 tour, to learn about all of the city’s hauntings. The walking tour is 2 hours long and our tour guide, Matt, was entertaining, informative, and when appropriate, definitely a little spooky 😉 ! This was definitely worth the $18 student discount ticket price!

Classic New Orleans Drinks Tour

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This was one of the highlights of my trip. The $60 price tag was 100% worth it! The Classic New Orleans Drinks Tour was small, made up of only my friend, Nick, and I and a couple, which made for an intimate, personal experience. Our tour guide, Sandy (who was AMAZING!) led us through the French Quarter, taking us inside some of New Orleans most historical bars and restaurants, serving us New Orleans’ most famous drinks, and sharing the history of the sites and drinks while we sipped and explored. I love learning and asking questions just as much as I love enjoying a nice drink, so this tour was my dream. I definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to experience and learn about the city in a fun way!

Maple Leaf Bar

Located Uptown, the Maple Leaf Bar is one of the most famous music venues in New Orleans. Go on a Tuesday night to hear the Rebirth Brass Band, the Grammy-award winning pride of New Orleans. The place fills up fast, so get there early to enjoy the best jazz music you will ever hear.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

New Orleans | The Pace

Located in the French Quarter, the Blacksmith Bar is one of the oldest bars in the entire country. Go at night to enjoy the candlelight atmosphere and a piano player who sings any song you request!

New Orleans combines so many of my favorite things: good music, food, drinks, history, and beauty. This city that has not seen the last of me 🙂

xo,

Tatum

 

5 Ways to Save Money for Spring Break

5 Ways to Save Money for Spring Break | The Pace

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It’s January, so naturally, I’m already thinking about Spring Break 😉 I need something to get me through this cold weather! My Spring Break is taking me to New Orleans, and I couldn’t be more excited (if you have any recommendations for my trip to Nola, please help a girl out!). No matter where you’re planning on spending Spring Break, you’ll definitely be spending some extra dough, so here are 5 ways to save money for spring break.

1. There’s an App for That

5 Ways to Save Money for Spring Break | The Pace

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Clipping coupons is an activity reserved for afternoons with your grandma or volunteering at a retirement home, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about coupons entirely. Most major grocery stores have smart phone applications loaded with coupons and deals. Check the app every time you shop and keep your eye out for coupons for cleaning supplies, beauty and hygiene products, and grocery items like cereal, granola bars, and extra virgin olive oil. You’ll be surprised how much you can save!

2. Put a Lid on It

5 Ways to Save Money for Spring Break | The Pace

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When every dollar counts, throwing away food is even more of a waste. Investing in tupperware will become a huge money saver in the long run. Cook up a large amount of your favorite meal, store it in tupperware and you have lunch and dinner for the next few days! I like making a bunch of veggies and beans to put on salad or have with quinoa or cous cous. Tupperware is also a great way to store leftovers from those large portions from eating out!

3.  One Less Lazy Girl

5 Ways to Save Money for Spring Break | The Pace

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Walking outside seems far less appealing in the winter, but enduring the cold has it’s benefits! Instead of always opting for your car for short distances, try walking instead. Burning through a bit of gas money to drive here and there definitely adds up. Plus, walking will give you some extra exercise for the day. Put on your hat and gloves and envision yourself sweating under the sun during Spring Break. It’s worth it!

4. Have a Girls’ Night In

5 Ways to Save Money for Spring Break | The Pace

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Your friends are also probably trying to save some cash for Spring Break, so suggest a night in from time to time! Grab whatever wine is on sale at the liquor store and make a night of cooking, baking, watching movies, and talking. You’ll save tons on over-priced drinks at the bar and you don’t have to venture out in the cold! A win-win 🙂

5. Become your own Barista

5 Ways to Save Money for Spring Break | The Pace

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Your morning trip to Starbucks is costing you more than just the annoyance of waiting in line and seeing your name spelled wrong (again…). If you go to Starbucks once a day, you’re spending at least $20 a week (probably more). You can buy a small coffee maker and a travel mug for a week’s worth of Starbucks and then brew your own java, saving you time and money every week.

You don’t have to live off ramen noodles to save money. Be smart and savvy, and your Spring Break fund is sure to grow by the time your bags are packed. Happy saving!

What are your go-to money saving tips?

xo,

Tatum

What to (not to) Pack for Studying Abroad

I can’t believe I am back in the United States! I already miss Rome so much, but I am happy to be home. It’s crazy how many little things I appreciate now that I am home–unlimited hot water, oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter, and a clothing dryer. With my semester abroad (and my heavy suitcases) fresh in my mind, I thought I would share some packing tips I learned that I hope will be helpful to future study abroad students (you lucky ducks 😉 ).

Packing for Study Abroad | The Pace

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WHAT TO PACK

Passport Copies. It is super important to have your passport on you at all times when you are walking around a foreign city, but if you carry your actual passport, you run the risk of it getting taken from you if you were to be the unfortunate victim of pickpocketing. Easy solution: pack a few extra copies of your passport. The best part? These will take up about .01% of your suitcase.

Peanut butter and Ziplock bags. Ok so maybe you don’t consider these things essential, but some do. Make sure you do some research to find out what things are not sold in the country you are traveling to. For example, peanut butter is rarely sold in Rome and when it is, it’s the kind with a ton of added sugar (AKA not the kind I eat). Make sure you make some room in your suitcase for the essential items that your study abroad country does not sell.

Clothing for every place you plan to travel to. Planning a Spring Break trip to Barcelona? Heading up north for the weekend? Keep these climates in mind as you pack for your journey. Of course, you might want to go shopping while you are abroad, but you don’t want to have to rely on buying a whole new wardrobe for each of your travels.

Raincoat. I always wondered how Romans lived off of a diet of pasta, pizza, cheese, and gelato and still managed to stay slim. Now, I know the secret…lots and lots of walking. The amount of walking I did every day in Rome was amazing…rain or shine. A raincoat was a total lifesaver on those rainy days.

Clothing that makes you feel good 😉 I have always heard that Europeans go for the cool and casual vibe when dressing to go out, so when packing for this trip, I didn’t make “going out clothes” a priority. Turns out, I should have considered that aspect of my wardrobe a little bit more. Yes, it’s important to embrace the culture around you, but it’s also important to feel good when you go out at night (night life is a big part of the culture in Europe). I’m not advising you to pack your 6-inch stilettos (you will break an ankle on the cobblestones!!), but packing a few “going out” pieces that make you feel confident is definitely a good call.

 

WHAT NOT TO PACK

Hairdryers, straighteners, and curling irons. The wattage used in Rome is much lower than in the U.S., so even if you bring converters and adapters, you will still run the risk of using too much energy. Energy in Rome is limited and is regulated by the government. If you use too much power at once, you will experience a black out (not fun, trust me). It’s much easier to keep your hairdryers and straighteners at home and just buy them when you arrive at your destination!

Heels. Cobblestones are a real danger and make walking in heels impossible. Instead, opt for heeled booties for a boost of height that doesn’t end in a broken ankle.

Back of the Closest Clothes. You know those clothes that you never choose when you’re getting ready in the morning, but you still keep them around because they were expensive, you got them as a gift, or you just really wish you could pull them off? These are the things you do not want taking up precious room in your suitcase. If it’s not good enough to wear around your hometown or college campus, I highly doubt you will want to wear it around a foreign country. Pack only the pieces of clothing that you like and you feel good in!

I hope these tips are helpful! Packing for a study abroad program is extremely overwhelming, so make sure you take some deep breaths, make some lists, and keep things in perspective. The experience you are about to embark on is so much more important than the clothing you will be wearing on it.

Do you have any packing tips to add?

xo,

Tatum

Never the Right Time to Say Goodbye

Well this is it…my last week in Rome. Right now, my emotions are incredibly mixed. On one hand, I am so excited to go home—to be back in America with my family, my boyfriend, and my friends, to be able to send texts and use Snapchat on my iPhone even if I don’t have Wifi, to be able to read labels in the grocery store and communicate easily with the people around me. But on the other hand, I am so sad for this adventure to end. My semester abroad has been the best experience of my life. I learned things about this world and about myself that I really don’t think I could have learned anywhere else. I traveled to places I had only dreamed of visiting and saw so many stunning creations of this world and of the people on it. I did things I never imagined I was capable of—good and bad—and learned from every one of them. I met some of the greatest, most fun people I have ever known and made friendships that I know will continue outside of this continent. I also got to known and came to love an incredible city: Rome. Rome drives me nuts…the traffic is absolutely insane, the metro is crowded and annoying, the people selling selfie sticks are out of control, and the streets are dirty—but, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Rome has become my home over this semester and I love everything about it, the good, the bad, and the crazy. Below is a list of the things I will miss most about living in Rome.

1. 1 Euro bottles of wine

No lie, this bottle of wine costs 1.09 at CarreFour and puts Franzia to shame (#neveragain). I’m not sure how I will afford my wine obsession when I come back to America and have to pay $12 for a cheap bottle of vino. I would be lying if I said I never considered filling an entire suitcase with bottles of red to bring back home 😉

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2. Produce Markets

I love fruits and vegetables more than I love life itself (ok, a bit of stretch…but not that far from the truth). My friends tell me if I were a superhero, I would be Produce Girl. The two produce markets that are on either side of my apartment are absolutely sensational; I can get an entire bag of fresh produce for around 3 euro. It will feel like a sin (and a fatal blow to my wallet) to buy produce from a grocery store again. Plus, I will miss the (limited) Italian conversations I had with the market’s workers as I got to know them during my daily visits.

3. The Scenery

Sometimes, I had to stop and remind myself what I was taking for granted around me in this city. During this semester, I went on runs past the Colosseum, my morning commute to work everyday gave me a stunning view of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the sunlight, and my time waiting for the night bus to take my friends and I home from a night out was spent outside the Vittoriano. These things became so normal to me—just another part of my daily life—but unfortunately, they won’t follow me back to daily life in the United States.

4. Weekend travels

I traveled almost every weekend this semester to cities like Florence, Milan, London, Paris, Prague, Budapest, and Barcelona. Back home, I do not have the privilege of hopping onto a cheap RyanAir flight to another city after class on Friday and coming back in time for my internship on Monday morning. I have come to love traveling, and not being able to do it as frequently will be something I greatly miss (although, I can’t say I will miss flying RyanAir—am I right?).

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5. THE FOOD

I have eaten some of the best food in this city—pizza, cacio e pepe, buffalo mozzarella, bruschetta, gelato, and tiramisu. My friends make fun of me because after every meal I announce: “Oh my god, that was the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life.” This statement (although dramatic) is true! Every meal I eat tastes even better than the last. Roman food gets 5 stars from me.

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6. My Italian Family

This semester, the students on my program had the opportunity to tutor a child in English and visit the house of a Roman family every week. I was placed with the kindest, most welcoming, and loving family. Going to their home every Thursday to play games with, read to, talk with, and eat dinner with them has been a huge highlight of this experience. This Thursday will be my last visit and saying goodbye will be hard. I really don’t think this goodbye is a permanent one; I will come back to Rome and seeing this incredible family will be a priority during this future visit.

7. My internship at the Vatican

Yes, my internship had me waking up at 6:45am everyday (to get in an early morning workout beforehand), but it was an incredible experience. During my typical work week, I reached thousands of people in five different languages via my daily gospel posts and thousands more through photos on Instagram, spent every Wednesday morning with Pope Francis and thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, and enjoyed the incredible view of Saint Peter’s Basilica every time I stepped out of the office. In addition, I was one of only about 20 press people permitted on the Palentine Hill during Way of the Cross, only feet away from Pope Francis and with the opportunity to take amazing photos of the hundreds of thousands of people gathered in front of the hill, the glowing cross, and of Pope Francis himself. I am so grateful for this opportunity and will never forget it.

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8. My friends

It’s amazing how close you can get with people when you are the only American college students living in a region. The program I studied with is not typical of study abroad programs; we all lived in apartment buildings with local Romans instead of in university housing with hundreds of other study abroad students from America. This setting helped us all to grow close and to build incredible friendships. I have the most incredible memories with my friends on this program and have had some of the most fun and exciting experiences of my life with them. Being in Rome and traveling in Europe is amazing, but without people just as special by my side, my experience this semester would not have been half as fantastic.

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I could continue, but I think it is best to get off the computer and get out there to experience my last few days of the things on this list and everything else Rome has to offer. Now, to sign off for the last time from Rome…

Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

The Amalfi Coast

My trip to the Amalfi Coast was different than any of my weekend adventures outside of Rome. During this semester, my weekends were full of hours upon hours in airports, days where my only sleep occurred on modes of transportation or on chairs in airports, and countless miles on foot as I attempted to see and do as much as possible during my limited time in each city. Don’t get me wrong…those weekends were absolutely incredible—some of the best of my life—but for my final trip of the semester, I wanted something a bit more relaxing. With breathtaking views, gorgeous beaches, and natural wonders, the Amalfi Coast was just what I had been dreaming of…and more!

Day 1 of the weekend was spent in Positano. This gorgeous town on the coast is known for a hill of adorable houses and its black sand beaches. With ice cold Peroni’s and sunscreen in hand, my friends and I set out to the beach where we soaked up the sun, laughed, played games, and drank tropical drinks all day long. This was the relaxation all of those hours spent on my feet and in airports were building up to, and it felt amazing. That night, we went into the center of Sorrento. We had dinner at Pizzeria Aurora, where I had the best pizza I have had so far in Italy. Then, we went to an outdoor beer garden, where we danced the night away. This day was the definition of my perfect day. Sun, friends, food, and dancing…what more could a girl ask for?

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On Day 2, we took a ferry into Capri and then hopped onto smaller boats for a tour of the island. First stop: The Blue Grotto, one of the natural wonders of Europe. To enter the illuminated cave, we had to get into small rowboats and lay down, while a sailor on the boat pulled us into the grotto with a string. I was a bit scared of not making it through the cave’s tiny hole, but once inside the grotto, my only emotion was amazement at the naturally illuminated blue water surrounding me. Back inside the boat, we continued to tour the island, taking in the world’s beauty at every turn.

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After the boat tour, we explored the island on foot—but not for long. After enjoying an amazing shrimp pasta dish in creamy lemon sauce at Le Arcate, we headed to the chairlift that brought us up to the very top of the mountain, giving the most incredible views I have ever seen. Breathtaking is the only world suitable for an experience like this one.

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On the last day of the long weekend, we visited Pompeii. We didn’t have any type of guided or audio tour, so it was difficult to know exactly what we were looking at. To anyone visiting Pompeii, I recommend participating in some type of tour so that you can best understand what is around you. Regardless, it was very neat to look at the ruins and think about the history of the famous city.

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I was extra sad for this weekend to come to an end, because as Sunday came to a close, so did my long list of weekend trips. I couldn’t have chosen a better trip to finish off the semester with. Sunshine, great friends, countless laughs, and stunning nature made a weekend I will never forget.

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Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

 

 

 

Barcelona

This trip has been in the books for a while. Ever since I received my internship at the Vatican and was accepted at the Arcadia in Rome study abroad program, Eric and I have been planning our trip to Barcelona. Eric lived in Barcelona for several years when he was young and still has family living in the city, so I was so excited to finally be able to see and experience a part of his life that I never had the chance to before. Plus, I was pretty pumped to have my own personal tour guide who speaks Spanish and is already familiar with the city (I’m a lucky gal, what can I say? 😉 )

We stayed in an Airbnb near the apartment Eric grew up in. We had to climb what felt like a thousand stairs to reach the top floor apartment, but I couldn’t complain…it was just all the more reason to indulge in sangria and tapas during the weekend (am I right?!) During our week in Rome, I played tour guide, showing Eric around my Roman neighborhood and taking him to my favorite gelaterias and piazzas. In Barcelona, Eric took the lead as we explored his old neighborhood, visited tourist attractions (like the Arc de Triompf, La Sagrada Familia, the Magic Fountain light show, and Park Guell), had lunch with his cousins and family members, and walked around the marina and the beach.

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Visiting La Sagrada Familia was a highlight of the weekend for both of us. I have been in many churches and basilicas in Rome, but never have I seen anything like La Sagrada Familia. Antoni Gaudí designed the church to feel like a forest, with the columns acting as trees and the stain glass windows bringing energy and life to the inside of the cathedral. I’m not sure that I know enough about architecture to have a favorite architect, but if I were to have one, Gaudí would be it. Every detail of the church and the atmosphere it created was absolutely breathtaking. Both Eric and I agreed it was an incredible experience and was well worth the price of the ticket of entry.

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Another highlight of the trip was food (shocking, I know). I think I had some of the best food I’ve had all semester during this weekend trip. My favorite meal is definitely a toss up between our dinner the first night at Arcano and our lunch on the marina at Merdendero de la Mari. At Arcano, the service was amazing, I had the best octopus and salmon of my life, and enjoyed my first glass glasses of sangria in Barcelona. Another fantastic meal was at Merendero de la Mari, a gorgeous restaurant located right by the water. Here, we enjoyed the best calamari I have ever eaten and steaming hot plates of seafood paella that we wished would last forever. Oh, and of course, a pitcher of sangria was the perfect pairing to this meal.

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My weekend in Barcelona was one of the best weekends of my life. I absolutely fell in love with the city and now consider it my favorite city I visited during this semester. It has a little bit of everything…adorable residential areas, streets with impressive shopping and dining, a beautiful beach and marina, incredible nightlife, and some of the most unique and beautiful architecture I have ever seen. Plus, the ease of using the smooth metro system and affordable taxis made coming back to Rome’s insane traffic and extremely crowded metro a bit of a nightmare. In addition to my newfound love for Barcelona, I was lucky enough to experience it with Eric. This was our first experience traveling together, and I don’t think we could have made a better team. I look back on this weekend with only the fondest of memories and look forward to the future with so much excitement: excitement for my next trip back to Barcelona (there is no way I can stay away now) and for so many more trips to come with the best travel partner I could ever ask for.

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Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

Better When We’re Together

My experience in Rome and traveling through Europe has made for the best three months of my life. However, at every beautiful sight I saw, at each new place I visited, and during every incredible meal, a thought constantly remained on my mind…I wish Eric could be experiencing this with me. Eric is my boyfriend and my best friend, and all around, the best person in the world, so when he finally arrived in Rome this past Saturday (after he traveled for over 24 hours and dealt with lost luggage), I was easily the happiest girl in the Mediterranean. 🙂

By Sunday afternoon, Eric had his luggage (yay!) and our time in Rome could officially begin. Our week together was absolutely perfect, and the weather was gorgeous. We embraced the “touristy” part of the city, but I also showed him around Garbatella, the part of Rome I have come to call home. To fuel up for all of our adventures, we made sure to eat all of the Italian food and wine that our bodies could handle (and then some…).

Rome has treated me so well for the past three months, but Eric’s visit here showed me beauty in this city that I have never seen before. Like Jack Johnson sings, “it’s always better when we’re together.”

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P.S. If you are drooling over this food (like we did), the restaurants we visited (in order) were La Romana (gelateria), Marco G, Osteria dell’Anima (famous for its pear pasta), Verde Pistacchio (great vegan and vegetarian options), and Osteria Barberini (famous for truffles). They were all amazing, and I highly recommend each one!

And to clarify, I promise I do more than just eat here (hehe 😉 )

Baci, baci,

Tatum