Airport Style.

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Before I came to Italy, I only needed two hands to count the number of times I rode on an airplane. Now, it’s a different story. In the past three months, I’ve flown on an airplane 11 times. I’ve flown more in the past three months than I have in my entire life! Flying around in Europe isn’t nearly as expensive as it is in the states. Example: I flew to Barcelona last week for only 8 euros! Flying is, also, not nearly as glamorous as I imagined it to be beforehand. It’s exhausting and tedious and always leaves horrendous blotches on my skin. Given, I do fly through really low-budget airlines, (curse you, Ryanair), so customer service tends to be awful and the restrictions are short of not letting the passengers on the plane — but hey, it’s all part of the experience right? Anyway, maybe flying really is glamorous when you’re doing it first class. Wouldn’t know.

Along the way, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to minimize some of the awfulness that unavoidably follows when flying.

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1. BIG SUNGLASSES | Often departure times are at absurd hours and makeup is the last thing on your mind. To not scare off the entire airport with under-eye bags and dry skin, I cover half of it up with sunglasses! This also lets me keep a little bit of my dignity when I doze off on the plane with mouth wide open.

2. SWEATER, TANK, & SCARF | Airplane temperature is SO unpredictable. Sometimes you’re in an ice box, others you’re in a tanning bed. You never know until you’re already high in the air and it’s too late to jump. I always come prepared ready to take off layers if the ride starts to get stuffy, or use the sweater and scarf as a blanket if the temperatures lowers.

3. MINIMAL JEWELRY | I keep my earrings on but other than that, everything stays in my carry-on to avoid any hassle during security. I hate when a piece accidentally makes the metal detector go off and I have to awkwardly get felt up by a stranger in front of everyone. Oh, don’t forget to take the belt off and leave the bra with underwire at home. (I learned the hard way.) No, I don’t have any bombs or knives hidden inside my pants.

4. LONGCHAMP | Now, I don’t have a longchamp tote but I do think it would make for the perfect carry-on bag. Any bag large enough to fit everything works, and a long strap to free your arms for balancing other luggage is a plus. Inside the bag? Headphones, tylenol, a good read, hand sanitizer, lip balm, tissues, body spray, makeup, a journal and pen, wallet, passport, and fuzzy socks (in case the plane gets really cold.)

5. FLATS | Usually when you wear flat shoes, they don’t make you take it off to go through security. And even if they do, slipping them on and off is painless. It’s always annoying having to take your boots off, go through, lug them to a nearby bench, and then put them back on.

6. BLACK LEGGINGS | Because it’s comfortable and lets you pretend you’re wearing no pants at all. No one likes to sit through a flight in stiff denim. No one. Sticking to black, specifically, is a good choice because its chicness can be dressy enough if you have somewhere to be right after with no time to change.

OTHER THINGS | If you fall asleep on the plane, be sure to keep your belongings wrapped around you so no one nearby can steal your things. Better yet, sit on them if you can! Better safe than sorry. Pack a snack and fill your water bottle before you get on the plane because all the prices get jacked up the second you step on. A cup of water? 4 euros.

Unfortunately, I can’t get rid of screaming babies, rude employees, or the long lines at security — if it were up to me though, I would in a heartbeat — but hopefully some of these will make your next plane ride more enjoyable. (: I’d love to hear any other travel essentials or tips I didn’t mention! xo.

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Eating in Paris

There are a lot of things I say that I don’t mean. Like…

“I’m on my way now.”

“Just five minutes away.”

“I’m gonna start dieting today.”

You get the point?

But there is also a list of things I am very reliable for. Like remembering really obscure quotes from movies. Taking 900 photos while on vacation. Owning an odd amount of nail polish. And more importantly? If you ever, ever need a breakfast/lunch/dinner date, I am your woman.

But speaking to this blog, one thing I promise to always be reliable for is bringing home food porn. (: Starting with Paris.

Let’s begin. 

They say you glow when you’re in love; and by looking at this photo, I think it’s safe to say that that statement is fully warranted. After two long months of separation anxieties and coping mechanisms of flirting with generic coffee, I was finally reunited with my love, Starbucks, and it was the sweetest reunion ever. (: And yes, Starbucks totally constitutes for food porn. Just ask every Instagramm-er out there. Better yet, look up #latteart.

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(So maybe I’m not exactly glowing, but my eyes do look a glossy. Tears of joy?!) While we’re on the topic of all things American girls love, I bring you my next goodie.
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That’s right. Paris not only has Starbucks but also CHIPOTLE! It was like I died and went to foodie heaven. (: My order? A burrito bowl with extra white rice, half steak, half chicken, medium salsa, tomatoes, corn, salad dressing, and a wittle bit of sour cream. My taste buds didn’t know how to handle this surprise treat, but they were so delighted that the excitement transferred beyond control and translated into flailing arms, random shrieks of OMG’S, and eyes opening as wide as a pair of Asian eyes can. I was given some dirty looks from Parisians at the other tables but you know what, true love has no shame.
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After curing a case of food-sickness, I got on the Parisian bandwagon and devoured dined Parisian cuisine. For one of the meals, we went to BREIZH CAFE because it was recognized for its phenomenal crepes and cider. I think the entire city of Paris believed the hubub because Breizh Cafe was ridiculously crowded. There was a maximum time limit per reservation for one hour. If this was America, those servers would be making BANK with that many turned tables a night.
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We ordered a bottle of pear cider for the table and it was plenty for the four of us girls. The taste of alcohol was subtle and just sweet enough to complement the meal.
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My beautiful dinner dates! (: This meal — and Paris, in general — was SO, SO much fun with these girls. I’m so happy I got to experience such a beautiful city with such beautiful people. Two are from my program, and also my hometown, and the last girl on the right is actually currently studying abroad in Paris right now so we met up with her for dinner. (: She was the one who actually introduced us to this cafe! IMG_3894_Snapseed
The menu was long and complex like anything that’s in a foreign language, so we decided to order a bunch of dishes and share so we could try them all. Family style! (: For starters, we ordered a salmon crepe. How CUTE is its presentation?!
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The ultimate symbol of accomplishment.
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Although the items were a bit pricey and portions were rather small, Breizh Cafe was a really enjoyable experience, from the food to the service to the ambience. (: It was unique and lively! Would I go there again? Eh, probs not… dat green tea ice cream, doe.

We went to another Parisian favorite, CHEZ JANOU. PLEASE do yourself a favor and go here. Oh, and did I say that Breizh Cafe was crowded? That was NOTHING compared to Chez Janou. Their waiting area + bar + foyer was comparable to a bathroom, and everyone was bumping and grinding on each other waiting for a table. Not even exaggerating. I wish I had proof because I’m pretty sure it exceeded maximum capacity by way too many and was the EPITOME of a fire hazard. And if your table was even approximate to the front, forget intimacy or even a decent conversation, because the people waiting will bump and grind all over your table, too. We made our reservation for 10 pm, and weren’t seated until close to 11pm. I know, I know, why did I tell you to go there? Because it’s awesome. And the people are hilarious. And the food is delicious. And they give out unlimited chocolate mousse. Yes, you did read that right. Just trying to save the best for last, that’s all. (:
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Lamb shanks with green beans.
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Duck with a side of potatoes.
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And this is the massive bowl of chocolate mousse. It was bigger than MY HEAD! And I, unfortunately, have a very big head. They kind of just PLOPPED it on our table and told us to dig in. We really wanted to do them proud by eating the most they’ve ever seen because then maybe they’d give us bumper stickers or put our pictures on the wall or something… but we could barely even put a dent in it. Not a whole lot of accomplishment going on here. But I probably made up for it later that night. Anyway, if you like good, timely service and your own personal space, then stay far, far away from this place. All your fears will come alive! But, if your love for chocolate mousse trumps all, then… I think we can make for good friends in the future. (:

Hope I delivered a fine share of food porn. Ciao for now!

Friday Favorites: Brussels, Belgium

I didn’t know too much about Belgium prior to my trip there, so I did some digging and discovered some neat things. Like, that Brussels is the capital of the European Union, and home to not only chocolate, but also beer, french fries, and mussels. (: Um, say no more and put me on the next FLIGHT. The itinerary ended up looking like one long meal spread across the span of three days with random breaks to grab a beer. I’m not complaining. I’m actually surprised I managed to come back with pants still on — THAT’S how much of a foodie trip this was.

But anyway, Brussels is also a relatively small city rich with history and culture (not just food), and you can probably see the entirety of it in one day. Whether you have one day or one week, here were my favorites that I suggest you visit. (:

FAVORITE CHOCOLATE & PACKAGING | Mary’s : Mary’s is actually the warrant supplier for the royal court. There are two locations: one inside the Galeries, and the other original store on Rue Royale. Fun fact: When they remodeled Mary’s, they kept the store on Rue Royale FACING the congress to keep some of its history intact. This was where I purchased majority of my souvenir chocolates, a lot of their packaging can serve also as fun storage. IMG_2621_Snapseed

FAVORITE BEER | A La Mort Subite : If you know me personally, then you know I can’t drink. (And not just because I’m underage or my Christian beliefs — it’s a bit uglier than that). My face turns blotchy red, my head starts pounding, and after one sip, I’m ready to rest my head on the next thing that slightly resembles a pillow. #AsianProblems? But considering that beer is a way of life in Brussels, I wanted to drink up the whole experience. No pun intended. So we stopped by this cute little bar, (right across from the Galeries entrance in front of that funny pink bunny cyclist statue,) and ordered ourselves some authentic beer. Did I mention we did this little stroll at around 11 am? It’s five o’clock somewhere, right? We asked the server what his favorite beer was, and he recommended the au fut peche. And you know what, each sip was actually really enjoyable. It tasted like sparkling peach soda and nothing like piss! (: Now only if all beer tasted like that… If you’re a beer hater or a beer connoisseur or someone anywhere on that spectrum, check dis place out.  IMG_2571_Snapseed

FAVORITE PIT STOP | Mokafe : Mokafe is a cute diner located inside the Galeries. Due to its prime location and four-star reviews on Trip Advisor, this place tends to always be packed. You can find a seat easily if your party is less then 4 or if you don’t mind sitting outside, but if your group is any bigger, expect to split up. They have a nice ambiance — it feels like you’re eating at your favorite grandmother’s house — with a decent menu. It’s not the CHEAPEST, waffles are > 5 euros, but all my friends kept raving about their salads. For me, it was just the perfect place to rest my legs after walking around all day and thaw out my fingers.

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FAVORITE DAY ACTIVITY | Flea markets : This one’s for you all you thrift junkies. Brussels has quite a good amount of flea markets dispersed along the skirts of the city center. There’s one in the Sablon, one near a train station, and a few more that pops up depending on the day. Although I didn’t buy anything, i did see a good amount of items from fun trinkets, to antique china, to decent leather purses. If you have room in your luggage to bring back goodies, definitely swing by one of the flea markets. It’s also just exciting to see the locals scavenging for their own treasures. IMG_2943_Snapseed

FAVORITE TEA | Frederic Blondeel : I think this spot was recommended by Rick Steve’s, but my friends and I stopped by here while we waited for our dinner venue to open. (Restaurants usually stay closed until 7pm since people generally eat later.) This spot is located near St. Catherine’s, so right near the row of all the famous seafood restaurants, so it’s a good spot to kill time, drink tea, and just debrief the day’s activities. Frederic Blondeel was one of my favorite places we went to. The interior design is stunning, the silverware, the tea kettle — the whole set up, actually — is so charming, and it makes you forget about your frozen toes and brings you to a fancy lil tea party. If you’re not into tea, they also have a variety of chocolates and other drinks.   IMG_2982_Snapseed

FAVORITE PHOTO OPP | I can’t recall what the name of this little square is, but it’s along Rue Royale, across from the museums. This, I thought, was the perfect view of the city, as well was my favorite place to take photos. One one side it overlooks the gardens and the city, on the other, is a row of really unique buildings, and right in the center is a water fountain.

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I hope you enjoyed today’s friday favorites and that it was helpful for you if you’re planning an upcoming trip to Brussels! I tried to include less touristy spots like Mannekin Pis, Grand Palace, Chocolate Museum, etc., because they tend to be blasted on all other travel sites. Overall, Brussels was a relaxing getaway and would make the perfect location for a GNO. (;

On another note, I’m getting on a flight for London tonight! Have a good weekend errbody.

XO.

Paris : Where to Stay (On a Budget)

When I first came to Europe, I asked others for recommendations on the best traveling accommodations.  The answer was unanimous: hostels. A hostel is an establishment that offers cheap lodging — depending on how much you pay, you usually are just renting a bed and sharing a public bathroom and kitchen. Hostels are cheap, which is why they’re the popular choice.

We stayed in a hostel during Florence and Brussels and each night varied from 13 euros to 30 euros per person. For those two trips in particular, a hostel was convenient because we only stayed for two nights in each city, and only needed a bed to lay our heads at night. We wanted to spend majority of our day out sightseeing, so we weren’t looking for a romantic jacuzzi or mints on our pillows. Since we traveled in larger groups, we lucked out with our own private room (so no creepy creeps digging through our suitcases at night) and in Brussels, they even served free breakfast! Disclaimer: depending on the arrangement, you might end up in a room with a dozen bunk beds filled with strangers, no lockers to hold your luggage, or no free wifi and sheets.

This is a great site to find a hostel organized by preferences: price, privacy, popularity, etc.

For Paris and London, we were staying for a longer period of time. We didn’t think eating out for each meal was the smartest decision so we wanted more amenities without emptying our wallets. (#CollegeStudentProblems) A friend had suggested looking into renting apartments, (which is apparently very popular in Europe). An apartment meant privacy, a clean bathroom, AND a kitchen to cook/eat in to save some pennies. (:

This past trip to Paris was my first time renting an apartment and it ended up being the most wonderful experience. We found the apartment through this site, (but we also liked this), and between the three of us for four nights, our grand total was ~300 euros. AKA ~25 euros a night per person for a WHOLE apartment. The landlord was also super welcoming making our travels much more comfortable — he filled our apartment with coffee, tea, extra towels and sheets, as well as gave us thorough directions to/from apartment to airport, and even recommended his favorite scenes in Paris.

We stayed in the second district and our apartment was only a twenty minute walk from the Lourve, and a one-minute walk to the nearest metro stop.

Final verdict? Apartment > Hostel

Here a few photos from the apartment we stayed at in Paris:

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If you’re planning a trip to Paris and overwhelmed by all the different districts, I found this website to be a really helpful resource. It breaks down each district, going over its charms, best tourist spots, shopping, food, etc.

XO.

The Packing Challenge (part 1)

I’m leaving for Italy in three short days. Where did all the time go? It’s time to face the music and start planning logistics: calling banks, making copies of the passport, buying toileries, and the most dreaded task of all, packing.

How does one with an absolute affinity for clothing fit four months — that’s two seasons — worth of attire into ONE suitcase? We’re packing for both winter AND spring. Not to mention that those clothes will also be sharing space with shoes, towels, sheets, toiletries, jackets, and personal items. I’m even exhausted just listing what I need to pack.

The study abroad office offered us practical tips to make this process a little less stressful. Take a look at their “suggested list of items to pack” for one semester:

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Yes, you did read that right. They suggest you switch off between TWO blouses and TWO shirts for FOUR STRAIGHT MONTHS! I know the whole “pack lightly” thing is words of wisdom and a foreign concept, but that number just seems a little ridiculous. Who’s to say that you won’t spill or unable to head over to the laundromat on time or I don’t know, just get sick of that one shirt you’ve been wearing for four months.

So, I tried to find a nice compromise between the study abroad’s version of packing, and my unhealthy tendency to overpack, and surprisingly discovered a happy medium. Normally, I would rationalize that everything in my closet was necessary, throw it all in the suitcase without even thinking of how they would go together, and call it a day. This time, I selected a set amount of pieces and tried to mix-and-match to see how many different outfits it could create. Smartest decision ever. Learn new things every day. (;

JKFACEE tackles “packing lightly. | Here’s what happened:

One maxi dress + One flannel + One blazer + Two scarves + Three necklaces + Four shirts + Four sweaters +Five bottoms = 50+ outfits!
(hey, i know it still sounds like a lot but “packing lightly” is subjective. don’t judge.)

Below are the pieces I choice to include for this challenge and trip.

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And these are some quick ensembles that can be created out of those pieces:

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Mix and matching different pieces — plus swapping in jewelry — really change both the entire feel and look of an outfit. Expand your closet and minimize your spending by playing around with different items you already own, and challenge yourself to coordinate them in a completely new way that you’ve never thought of. Be adventurous and bold. Play with unique color combos, textures, throw in a scarf, or add an extra layer. You’ll be surprised to see how much more clothing you own; and in my case, the concept of living out of a suitcase for four months will be much easier to swallow.

XO.

How to Rock the Informational Interview

An informational interview is helpful in your job search because you gain firsthand knowledge about a career, build your network and rapport, and show that you are proactive and ambitious. And the cherry on top? They’re the ones drawing these conclusions on their own, you never have to self-promote. If your interview goes well, this contact will be more likely to help you on your career path later on.

What exactly is an informational interview?

An informational interview is a meeting where a job seeker asks for advice and insight into a career or industry, not for employment. It’s semi-informal; you guide where you want the conversation to go, but you should still maintain professionalism and treat it as such.

How do I schedule one?

You ask.

Often times you’ll want to propose an interview after you meet an employee at a career fair or networking event. But not always. With informational interviews, you don’t need an “in” or middle man. Cold contacting is definitely appropriate! If you’re a little shy and have a smaller network, you can just hop onto LinkedIn and check out your connections. See if any of the people you’d like to contact have a “mutual connection,” with you; if so, ask that person to make an introduction!

Once you find an employee or recruiter’s contact, introduce yourself via phone or email. Below is a sample of something along the lines of what I would say. Feel free to use it as a guide and alter it to your specific circumstance:

Hello (name)! My name is Jennifer Kim; we met last week at (place) and I really enjoyed learning about (company). I thought of a few questions I wanted to ask and am emailing (or calling) to continue our conversation. Could I possibly borrow 10-15 minutes of your time and ask you some questions? I’d love to take you out for coffee (OR chat with you on the phone) and hear your insights on both the company and your own personal experience.

* Note if you are calling this person, be prepared to have a message to say in either case that you reach the person or their voicemail.

What about the actual conversation?

You got the person to say “yes” and arranged a mutually convenient time, good job! Here are some quick tips to make the most out of your interview.

Be respectful. First thing you need to keep in mind throughout is that this person is doing you a favor; they’re taking time out of their busy day to talk to a stranger. So be courteous and respectful. Show up on time. Prepare an outline of how you anticipate the conversation to go. Don’t overstay your welcome; if you asked for an allotted “10-15 minutes,” stick to it. Say “thank you,” both in person and in a letter after the conversation.

Questions to Ask:

Since a bulk of the meeting includes questions, I thought I’d share some of my favorite questions to gear you in the right direction:

Professional Questions

  • What do you like most about your job?
  • I know each day at work looks different; but what does today look like? What does tomorrow look like?
  • How do you see it changing in the future?
  • What advice do you have for students seeking jobs in this field?
  • If you were looking for someone to replace you, what skills would you look for?
  • What activities in college helped you prepare you the most for your career?
  • What books or articles do you read to keep up with developments in your field?
  • Do you recommend any other people I should contact to learn more? Or books to read?

Company Specific Questions

  • Which do you value more upon hiring someone; a filled resume or a high GPA?
  • What kind of personality would you describe your company to have?
  • What skills have you seen entry-level employees possess that make them stand out?
  • What’s unique about your company?
  • Does your company participate in any philanthropy or pro-bono?
  • How important is cultivating relationships in your company?
  • What do relationships look like between employees and their supervisors? Is there mentorship? Feedback?
  • What are your company’s benefits?

For more questions, click here or here.

Keep the conversation going.

Even post-meeting, don’t lose touch (unless you sensed a lack of chemistry, then be discerning if you want to invest. Whatever you do, do not build bridges and still say, “thank you.”) Send them a relevant article to read. Connect them with LinkedIn if you weren’t already. And regularly, like once a month, maintain a conversation with them.

Good luck, all you go-getters! XO.