College: What I Wish I Did Differently

Four things I wish I did differently during my college years.

I never thought I would see the day that I wasn’t returning to school in the fall, but at last I made it!

I’m looking forward to enjoying pumpkin spice lattes and sweater weather (I know, I’m super basic) without the pressure of homework and exams. As a fresh college graduate, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on my college experience, and I want to share what I’ve come to realize now that my mind isn’t clouded by deadlines and overly-caffeinated stress.

For those starting college, continuing the journey, or just a curious college graduate wondering what others experience, I have a few lessons to share with you:

#1: I Wish I Took a Gap Year.

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A photo of me wearing the hoodie my parents got me after I officially enrolled at DePaul in 2014 — heavy Instagram filter and all.

We’re taught that once you graduate from high school, college in the next step. We’re told “It’s so hard to go back to school when you take a break.” It’s expected that we attend four continuous years of college right off the bat, but I’m here to tell you that I don’t agree with this.

When I enrolled at DePaul, I chose secondary education as my major because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. My family, friends and high school teachers assumed that I would go to college to become a teacher, which made me think I was supposed to do that. When I was applying to colleges, I didn’t know you could pick “undecided” as a major, and I never took the time to figure out what I actually wanted to study. After a year of avoiding secondary education classes (because my gut knew I didn’t want to be a teacher), I finally switched to ‘undecided’.

I used my first two years of college to complete my ‘gen ed’ requirements, and along the way, I discovered my love for fashion, makeup and all things lifestyle. After being a journalism major for three months and disliking it, I declared my major in public relations and advertising and it stuck. Although I eventually found a major I loved, I only spent two years studying it. If I had taken time off to figure out what I truly wanted to study, I would have had the opportunity to spend more time with my major.

#2: I Wish I Joined an Organization Sooner.

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The day I ran home to Alpha Omicron Pi – Fall 2016.

As a commuter, college life can get a little lonely. For two years, I drove to school, went to class, and drove back home. Wanting to find a sense of community on campus, I decided to join a sorority my junior year, and I am so happy I did. I met some of my best friends through my organization, and I am proud to be a part of something bigger than myself. I don’t regret joining my sorority as a junior; I only wish I did it earlier.

#3: I Wish I Paid Attention to My Creativity Side.

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Photo via Instagram.

Don’t get me wrong – school, working and doing internships are really important parts of the college experience. However, I wish I spent more time doing the things I love. It took me until my senior year to pursue my creative dreams – blogging, social media and music – alongside my education and work life. I must say, doing so has been the best choice I have made thus far, and I plan to continue making time for the things I love.

#4: I Wish I Wasn’t So Hard On Myself.

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Senior year spring break in Dallas.

Some would call my magic act of balancing overtime in classes, a job, multiple internships, and sorority simply “overachieving”. I called it “doing what I need to do.” Now I believe it was neither.

After nights without sleep, canker sore breakouts (stress will do that to you!), multiple mental breakdowns, gallons of coffee and struggling to keep up with everything I put on my plate, I must say it wasn’t worth it. I accomplished a lot in the past few years, and I’m proud of myself for that. But because of the schedule I created for myself, I spent more time counting down the days until it was over rather than enjoying my time as a college student. College is hard, yes, but it’s also supposed to be enjoyable. My advice is to avoid pushing yourself to an unhealthy extent and slow down. Balancing a million things isn’t worth dreading every moment, and two months later, I’m still recovering from the stress overload.

What I Wore to a Music Festival – Country LakeShake

Long time, no blog.

But I’m back! And my first post on my revamped website is one I’m excited for. I recently attended Country LakeShake, a three day country music festival in Chicago.

Aside from the impressive music lineup, I was most excited about picking outfits for the festival, as LakeShake 2018 was my “Coachella moment” this year (hoping to eventually go to the real thing!) Here’s a roundup of what I wore that weekend.

Day 1: Frozen Boho

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The first day of the festival was much colder than expected: 60 degrees and rainy. But that didn’t stop me from wearing what I planned (aside from some alterations). I wore a beautiful hand-crocheted top that I purchased from Etsy, and although I planned to wear denim shorts with this top, my black jeans suited the look and kept me warm. My black lace duster truly fulfilled my dream of looking “as Coachella as possible”. I accessorized with a dainty long necklace, a black belt with gold hardware, and my most comfortable black sandals. I made sure to bring a black faux leather jacket to replace the duster at nightime.

Top: JayblueHandmade on Etsy

Jeans: Forever 21

Duster: Forever 21

Belt: H&M

Necklace: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: Steve Madden

Day 2: Wildflower

This gorgeous dress from American Eagle was the star of the show for my day 2 outfit. This dress reminds me of something you would find by For Love and Lemons, but way more affordable! I accessorized the dress with a double layered horn necklace, a cuff bracelet and hoop earrings. My shoes were the same as my first outfit, only brown. And yes — I bought them in two colors. They’re that comfortable.

Dress: American Eagle

Necklace: Neiman Marcus Last Call

Bracelet: Lucky Brand

Shoes: Steve Madden

Day 3: Space Cowgirl

I made sure to saved the best for last: my favorite outfit inspired by this belt. Its baby pink velvet fabric and its amazing silver hardware made me fall in love with this piece instantly. The buckle features cestialial designs, and I love the beaded lining. I styled this belt with a distressed white denim skirt, a corset-like striped top, and cool silver velvet booties. A silver choker, cuff bracelet and earrings tied the look together.

Top: American Eagle

Skirt: American Eagle

Belt: Urban Outfitters

Choker: Forever 21

Shoes: Steve Madden

How I Get Paid to Shop

As a full-time college student and a part-time shopaholic, I’m constantly on the hunt for the best deals. So when I found out that I can be paid to shop, I thought it was too good to be true – but it’s not!

About a year ago, I discovered Ebates – a service that allows you to shop at your favorite stores and earn cash back on all your orders.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

How Ebates Works

Here’s how you can start getting paid to shop:

  1. Go to the Ebates website or download the Ebates app.
  2. Create an account. (Use this link to add $10 to your first Ebates check after a purchase of $25 or more!)
  3. Buy from your favorite stores through the Ebates app or website. You can even use Ebates at some in-store locations!

And voilà! You’ll receive your check in the mail or through PayPal. It really is that easy.

Depending on the store, you’ll get a certain percent back on your purchase. There are always stores offering special double cash back deals. Ebates also offers coupons and savings codes. It’s literally a savings sanctuary!

Where I Get Paid to Shop

With over 2,000 stores to shop from, you can earn cash back from all kinds of stores – clothing, cosmetics, homegoods, electronics, restaurants and many more. The stores range from affordable options to luxury goods.  Ebates truly does offer cashback for everyone’s needs.

Here are just some of my favorite stores on Ebates:

Forever 21 – 2% Cash Back

Sephora – 3% Cash Back

Target – 1% Cash Back

Ulta – 3% Cash Back

Urban Outfitters – 1% Cash Back

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Disclaimer: Some affiliate links are included in this article. All opinions are my own.

I Went to New York City!

Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamed of visiting New York City. Little did I know that I would be going on a girls’ trip to the Concrete Jungle during my senior year of college!

On January 19th, I boarded a plane and discovered that New York was everything I wanted it to be: big, busy, and full of life, lights and history. My friends and I lived the dream of pretending to be Gossip Girl characters all weekend long.

Here’s just a few highlights of our trip:

Time Square

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They say you can see Time Square from outer space, and I believe them now.

My friends and I visited Time Square during on first night in the city. We had the luxury of lodging in Manhattan, and Time Square was only a 15 minute walk from our place.

Although it was past midnight, the street looked as if it was mid-afternoon. Full of bright signs and branded images, Time Square truly is an advertising student’s dream!

We also ate at Joe’s Pizza – a joint known for its authentic New York style pizza and for being featured in Spiderman!

Brunch in Brooklyn

For our first proper meal in New York, we had brunch at Glasserie, a delicious Mediterranean restaurant located in Brooklyn. We ordered the Brunch Mezze Feast, a fully vegetarian family style meal. I had a spiked coffee and sipped some mimosas that my friends kindly shared with me. If you’re looking for a yummy restaurant with a cozy atmosphere, I definitely recommend visiting this spot.

Brooklyn Bridge

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When you visit New York, of course you have to go to the Brooklyn Bridge! We enjoyed our 1.1 mile walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, posing for tons of photos and appreciating the scenery.

 

New York’s Own – Cupcakes and Coffee

It isn’t NYC without cupcakes and coffee!

While in Brooklyn, we stopped at Baked by Melissa to try their famous mini cupcakes. They were so delicious and had us wanting more. The cookie dough and sugar cookie cupcakes are my favorites!

We also grabbed coffee at a nearby cafe called Financier Patisserie. I enjoyed a vanilla iced latte, my go-to order for a special occasion, and the cafe didn’t disappoint.

SOHO and Ladurée

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There are few places in U.S. more glamorous than SOHO New York. My friends and I grabbed Sunday brunch at Ladurée, an amazing French cafe originally from Paris. The Paris location has been in business since 1862. The moment you walk into SOHO’s Ladurée, you feel like you are right in the middle of France.

I ordered rose tea, and it truly was one of the best teas I’ve ever had. For brunch, we all ordered avocado toast. This entree was prepared with wheat bread, avocado, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on top. I’m not a fan of smoked salmon, but this dish had me questioning my preferences. Highly recommend it!

I bought a variety of macaroons to bring home to Chicago. Although I’ve never been to Paris (yet!), my friend assured me that SOHO’s macaroons taste just like they do in Paris.

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After brunch, we explored the streets and shops of SOHO. This area is full of luxury boutiques, sample sale shops, coffee shops, and luxe antique stores.

Central Park

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Our last stop was a classic – Central Park. Beautiful and big, just like NYC.

Central Park might have been the last stop on our trip, but it definitely wasn’t my last adventure in New York. I look forward to going back. But until then, xoxo… you know the rest.

 

 

My Top 5 Holy Grail Beauty Products

Confession: I am a makeup and beauty geek. I absolutely love learning about new launches and trying new products. Walking into Ulta or Sephora, seeing all the makeup I have yet to try, excites me.

Although new shiny things ignite my love for trying different products, I have my go-to, die-hard, holy grail beauty products that never let me down. I’ve narrowed my list down to my top 5 products:

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Coverage Foundation

mufe-ultra-hd-liquid-founda-810x454Image from here.

I have been religiously using this foundation for over a year now, and it has never let me down. As a person with normal to dry skin, I need a foundation with lasting power and the ability to keep my skin from looking crusty. This foundation does it for me!

It has medium coverage and a natural finish. This foundation comes in a wide range of colors to choose from, and I love that Make Up For Ever offers warm, cool and neutral tones.

I wear this foundation year round. It holds up in the summer heat and doesn’t dry out my skin in the harsh Chicago winters. Want to know how well it holds up? I wore this foundation for every day of sorority recruitment and for a 12 hour Black Friday shift this year. My skin still looked good. If that isn’t proof of a good foundation, I don’t know what is!

This foundation retails for $43 and can be found at Sephora.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

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Image from here

I can’t tell you the number of these sponges I have gone through. I use this sponge for applying both my foundation and my concealer, and I have yet to find another sponge that does it better. I’ve tried the original beautyblender, and in my opinion, it does not compare to the softness and ease of the Real Techniques sponge. Plus, it’s not worth paying $20 for a sponge.

A single Real Techniques sponge retails for $5.99 at Ulta. I prefer to purchase the packs of two for $10.99 or the packs of four for $17.99. In the long run, I save more money buying the value packs. These sponges can also be found at Target and other drugstores.

Lorac Unzipped Eye Shadow Palette

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Image from here.

I love rose tones. Anything rose gold or rosy pink is destined to be mine. Because of this and the undeniable quality of Lorac shadows, the Unzipped palette has been my go-to palette for years. I travel with it, and I use it for both everyday looks and nighttime looks.

This palette is composed of three true mattes, five shimmers, a satin/matte highlight shade and a glittery/matte-acting shadow. The shades range from shimmery rosy tones to bronze tones to a maroon matte. The palette also includes a beautiful gold shades and transition shades. All of the Unzipped shadows are super flattering.

This eye shadow palette retails for $42 at Ulta.

NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Soft-Spoken

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Image from here.

I have a huge collection of lipsticks. Even so, if you see me wearing a rosy nude lip color, I’m probably wearing this. I have gone through two tubes of this product, and it never fails me. I love how comfortable it feels on my lips and how flattering and wearable the color is!

This lipstick retails for $6.99 at Ulta.

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Perfume

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Image from here.

I’m very picky with scents that I like, so it can be hard to find my perfect perfume. A few years ago, I tested Black Opium in the store, and I instantly fell in love. I looked up the notes, and I wasn’t surprised why I loved it so much: coffee beans, white flowers and vanilla.

Coffee notes… No wonder I – a coffee addict – love it!

Black Opium is the perfect combination of spicy, sweet and floral elements. It has been my go-to scent during the colder months. I love the sexy yet sweet smell of it, and I receive a lot of complements when I wear it.

This perfume retails for $69 for a 1 oz bottle.

Welcome to the Journey

Hi! Welcome! I’m so glad you are here.

This is my first post on my new blog. I am beyond excited to begin the adventure of documenting my style, my thoughts, and my experiences. However, this is not my first rodeo. I had a blog during the spring of 2016, but I didn’t keep up with it.

I know the reason my former blog didn’t live for long. It was a compilation of what I thought was an acceptable fashion/lifestyle blog: cookie-cutter, aesthetically designed, and limited. I felt trapped by the self-titled “fashion/lifestyle” blog positioning. I struggled to create content that fit this mold because it wasn’t organic. While fashion is a big part of my life, it doesn’t make up my entire self. Inspiration sprouts in many places, and limiting your voice only leads to the demise of your success.

I envision this blog to be a well-rounded representation of my life, including (but not limited to!) fashion, beauty, travel, music, and reflection. Through this blog, I want to be everything that I am and learn to be even more than that.

It’s a journey. Join me?