Switzerland: the land of gingerbread houses & gummy bears

So, my blog post is all about the trip I took to Switzerland this past weekend!  This was an especially interesting trip, because it was my first trip ever completely on my own, and my first time riding on an airplane alone!  I would like to say now that I not only navigated two major international airports on my own, but I did so successfully and without much stress.  First off, I would like to say that Switzerland may just be the most beautiful country on earth.  I know, I know, it’s a bit premature for me to say that, considering I’ve only been to a half dozen countries.  But there is just something about waking up and breathing that mountain air – the type of air that completely reenergizes you, gives you new life, and a seemingly new set of lungs.  The entire town of Zurich and the smaller town, Winterthur, where I lodged, had an indescribable atmosphere of freshness and purity.

I will start at my arrival to the Zurich airport.    I was not as scared as I thought I was going to be flying in a plane alone.  I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep from the previous night that I promptly fell asleep within five minutes of sitting down and didn’t wake up until a flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder and said I needed to turn off my iPod.  Upon landing, I followed signs and navigated my way to the train station that was across the street from the airport and underground.  On the way there, I met an older man from Croatia who also happened to be German (I swear, I met so many people on this trip who could call themselves the United Nations) and he helped me figure out what train ticket to purchase and how to get to Winterthur.  We chatted for a bit and then I was on my way!  I arrived in the town of Winterthur, which is about a 15 minute train ride from the heart of Zurich, at about 11 a.m.  I had the directions for my hostel, but, me being me, I went the wrong way.  I ended up exploring downtown Winterthur for about two hours before I actually found my way (correctly) to my hostel.  It was during this time that I discovered the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to retail: Coop City.  It’s closest counterpart is probably Target, so it’s French counterpart would be Monoprix.  But Coop City is like Target on steroids.  It was five floors of pure bliss.  There was a huge grocery section, clothes, accessories, pharmacy, etc.  And the scarves!  This chain had the most beautiful scarves I have ever laid eyes on.  And for me to say that, they must be some pretty nice scarves.  And they were.  Too bad everything in Switzerland is ridiculously expensive, except for gummy bears (which made a nice meal, might I add), so I wasn’t able to purchase any of the beautiful patterned scarves.  

Once I deposited my luggage at the hostel and recharged with a mini power nap, I went back out and explored Winterthur for several more hours.  I got some dinner, did some more window shopping, and just absorbed the culture around me.  I ended up back in the train station of Winterthur during my exploration and ended up finding a man with a Shiba Inu…it was the most pleasant surprise, since my boyfriend (hi Casey) and I have a slight obsession with them and it was a nice reminder of home.  I’m pretty sure the guy noticed me snapping pictures of his dog, but he didn’t say anything to me about it.  Anways, many of the houses and businesses in Winterthur & Zurich resembled gingerbread houses, classically Swiss-esque in nature.  Think Hansel & Gretel.  I also found lots of colorful confetti on the ground and felt like I had missed something big, but I couldn’t find any information on what was going on.  As it turned out, Carnavel was happening.  In Coop, I had seen a big section with Halloween costumes.  I thought that it was kind of strange that they had so many costumes out, considering it was March, but there are a lot of costume shops in Paris so I didn’t really read much into it.  Later that night, I tried to find where all the festivities were happening, but I didn’t have any luck.  I was so exhausted that I decided to try again tomorrow and ended up passing out at 8:30 p.m. from all the running around I had done that day.

The next morning, I decided that I wanted to climb a mountain.  Okay, okay, so it wasn’t a HUGE mountain.  It was a baby mountain, and I did a hiking trail along the side of it.  I had been wishy-washy on if I wanted to do it, but I had decided that I came to Switzerland to have experiences, so I did it!  And I am so happy that I did.  It was considered a beginner’s hiking trail, but nothing about it felt “beginner.”  I’m still feeling the burn from that hike.  There were a couple times in the beginning where I had thought to myself, “I could turn back right now and go do something else, this is getting really difficult.”  But then I got really mad at myself for thinking that.  I had to prove to myself that I could do it, because I have had numerous people tell me I wasn’t capable or good enough to do something.  I thought about those moments when I was hiking on this trail, and it gave me the motivation to keep going.  It was nice to prove to myself that I could climb a mountain and reap a wonderful reward: the view.  The entire time I was walking I was also imagining the view from the highest point I could go, and boy was it worth the burn in my thighs.  The pictures below will give you a small taste of what I experienced.  There were lots of people on this trail: families, couples, women with dogs.  Everyone was enjoying themselves and the beautiful day we had been blessed with in Switzerland.  I enjoyed a small picnic with a beautiful view of Zurich from the highest point I was able to climb before turning back around and making my way to downtown Zurich.

Zurich is an absolutely beautiful city.  I had no idea they had any type of water there, so I was surprised to see so many boats along the river (I think it’s a river) running through the city.  I had my first-ever entire bratwurst while walking along the river’s edge and found my way to the downtown shops.  I walked around for a couple of hours, walked past a student protest, and eventually sat down on steps near the river to relax and soak up some sun and do some quality people watching.  I took the train back to Winterthur and wandered around the square waiting for Carnaval to start.  I started seeing more and more people in costume, all kinds of them!  There were children, adult, even senior citizens wearing Halloween costumes with the most elaborate makeup I’ve ever seen.  Clearly, this was a big event!  I was excited to witness it.  Everyone lined the street on the main drag as mini marching bands passed through playing songs.  Each band had a different theme, some were animals, gnomes, the moon, etc.  Each band had a conductor or ring leader who wore the most elaborate costume.  It was so much fun!  Everyone was throwing colorful confetti all around, and I was covered in it!  Definitely an experience that I would love to have again – only next time, wearing my own crazy colorful costume.

Anyways, here are some pictures from my adventure:ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

xoxo
elly

 

Brussels & Its Happenings

So, my latest blog post is going to be all about my trip to Brussels last weekend.  I apologize for slacking on writing, once again, but it’s so easy to get caught up in looking at rainbows, shopping for scarves, and fantasizing about banana splits (no euphemism here, folks, I’m just jonesing for one like nobody’s business).  Brussels (Bruxelles, if we’re being Parisienne) is a beautiful city.  The word that I can best think of to describe it is quaint.  It was all very clean, even the metro stations, which were decorated with art nearly everywhere.  The people were friendly, sometimes too friendly, but more on the creepies later.  Belgium is such an interesting country, because the people who live there seem to be able to speak five different languages.  French, Dutch, and English seem to be the most prevalent, however.  Before you ask – yes, I did buy lots of chocolate.  But, I didn’t get any waffles this time around.  I’ll be in Leuven, Belgium for a concert in April, so I will most definitely get a waffle then!  

We packed in a lot during our 48-some hour venture.  We went to several museums, my personal favorite was the fashion museum, followed by the comic museum, a big flea market, Grande Place, a brewery tour, the Hallepoort museum that allowed us to see an amazing view of Brussels, and lots of just walking around the city!  Ellen and I were kind of amused at the fact that there were only five metro lines, after conquering the Paris metro anything seems possible.  The entire city didn’t feel very big either, it had a small town vibe to it.  It had ultra modern buildings juxtaposed with the historic architecture.  Honestly, the architecture here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  It was like every block had a statue or a monument.  Anyways, on to the funny stuff, the list of the weirdest things that happened on our trip to Brussels!

We’ll start with our first venture out for dinner…

1. Our Hostel – oh, where to start with this one.  Ellen and I thought we would play it safe and go with the all female room in this particular hostel.  Upon arrival to the hostel, which was an almost creepy walk away from the metro station, we found out that our room was not in fact in the main hostel, but in the “all female” part of the hostel that was a little over a block away.  That’s not creepy, right?  The girl working reception at the hostel was a sweetheart, but the hostel itself was a bit janky.  Ellen and I made an even further creepy walk down the street to the unmarked building that was where our room was.  I should say now that this building was NOT staffed like the other one, and actually had a cat living in it which was also not described on the hostel website.  We ended up finding out room and discovered that we were rooming with two people who seemed to live there, based on the sheer amount of stuff that was spewed all over the room.  One roommate was home, a thirty-something Brazilian woman who looked terrified and miserable every time she spoke to us.  Ellen and I were a little freaked out by her, because we had no idea why she was making her eyes so big every time she spoke to us.  Not going to lie, I was a little freaked that she might kill me in my sleep that night.  Our other roommate, who never spoke more than “hello” to us, felt the need to pack up all of her belongings that were cast about said room at 5 o’clock in the morning before she had to leave the hostel.  Words cannot describe the rage I felt toward this irresponsible, disorganized…heathen when I’m trying to sleep after walking around for ten hours when she could have packed up the night before and left the light on while doing so.

2. The Cheesecake Cafe – this entire experience was just hell in a hand basket (what a beautiful line).  I should probably first say that Ellen and I walked a good half hour before we even found a restaurant.  This place, a fried chicken joint, and a black-tie restaurant were our only options in the neck of the woods where we were traveling.  Which was also pretty much a city center.  Anywho, our waiter ignored us for the first half hour that we were sitting down, then forgot to put our food order in for an hour and a half.  Once we got our food, it was…not good.  Ellen and I were feeling good from the cocktails we had ordered, so we weren’t even feeling hungry once we actually got our dinner.  It was a hamburger with beef that tasted a lot more like sausage.  My mind immediately went to the big horse meat scandal that was all over Europe last year or so and could barely choke it down.  We both pretty much just ate the fries and coleslaw that came with our hamburgers.  We just wanted to get the hell out of that restaurant so we could go to a club that I read was a “must-see” for every person traveling to Belgium.  When it came time for the check, the waiter informed us that it was “impossible” to divide it up.  He went on and on in Franglais about how it’s impossible to do that.  What century is this?!  I’ve found this happening at several places in Europe and it still manages to shock me each time.  He then proceeded to attempt to get in our good graces by telling us that American girls are all crazy, especially his ex-girlfriend who is from Chicago, and with whom he clearly still has issues.

3. Madame Moustache – this was the “must-see” club I read about in several Brussels tourism posts.  There was a sailor-themed night at the club so Ellen and I got all dressed up in cute striped shirts and sailor hats to dance to 80′s music all night.  When we got there, there were only about 20 people in striped shirts, no one else had adhered to the theme.  Feeling awkward, we ditched the hats and continued on in our striped shirts.  This entire experience was sketchy, hellish, bland, and creepy.  You had to have been there to really understand why I used each of those adjectives.  Every couple of minutes guys would approach us and haphazardly try to hit on us.  Seriously?  I’m over here trying to get my dance on and I am a happily taken woman.  I don’t need your creepy-ass with a porn-stache trying to woo me.  Seriously, if you look like you’re 35 and you’re barely over 20, it’s time to do some serious self-evaluation.  I also took this opportunity of being blatantly hit on to bring back one of my favorite past times: lying to strangers I know I will never see again about my identity.  I took turns pretending to not speak any language they tried to approach me with, I told several people I was a political science exchange student from Canada who was studying abroad in Oxford, and then I told several people to just get the hell away from me in a not-so-nice American way.  At the end of the night, there was a group of drunk guys trying to lift up their friend to start crowd surfing.  This kid was about to fall onto Ellen and I, so we booked it out of the way.  This kid ended up falling on his head on concrete, and promptly passed out.  I thought I had just witnessed someone die, so I was started to panic.  He ended up being okay, thank god, but it was a very stressful situation.  This is why I hate being around rowdy drunk people, because they do stupid things like that.

4. Not having cash – okay, this one was also stressful.  Ellen and I went to a restaurant where it was in no way advertised that they did not accept credit cards.  Once again, I’m going to throw this sentiment out there: what century is this?!?!  Why would you not take credit card in your business establishment?  Let alone not tell people that anywhere in the restaurant or on the menu?!  We used all but ten euros each of our cash because of this stupid restaurant, and we had 24 hours to either use or not use ten euros.  Thank god we had cash, or we might have had to do some sort of dine-and-dash situation or simply start begging patrons around us to help us pay for our meal…

5. Musical Instruments Museum – so this one is one of the dumbest things that has ever happened to me but also may be the most hilarious thing that’s every happened.  Ellen had been telling me how badly she wanted to go to the Musical Instruments Museum since we decided to go to Brussels.  Me, being the person that I am, could not have been less enthused to go to a museum all about musical instruments.  We ended up buying a pass for “Museum Night Fever” which is where all the museums stay open super late and there’s activities, shuttles, etc.  So, we decided, why not go to the MIM?  We ended up waiting in this line for nearly 45 minutes behind this couple who was all over each other in line.  Seriously, you would have thought we were on the set of a porn.  There was one point where the guy went to shove the girl against the wall to ferociously make out with her, and guess who was pinned between them and the wall for a hot second?  Yours truly!  People, we were not waiting to get into a club.  You could not have picked a less sexy place to try and get it with your lover than a museum about MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.  After that business was over, and we got into the museum, we had to check our coats before we were allowed to do anything.  This was also not advertised.  Once we got to the actual “museum” part, neither Ellen’s nor my audio guide worked.  We were literally walking around looking at old instruments for twenty minutes.  It was my own personal hell.  Even though it completely sucked, this MIM made for the absolute best story.  I still can’t stop laughing whenever it’s brought up.  Also, on an attempt to come home from this entire escapade, we waited half an hour for a night bus that never came.  Thank god there were taxis that took card (at least some parts of Brussels are up to speed with technology…) and we were able to get home.

6. Possible corpse on the metro – this one goes without explanation.  We couldn’t tell if the man sitting slumped in his seat on the metro was a passed out drunk, or if it was something else…  We’d like to believe it was a drunk who just felt like riding the metro all day.

7. Accosting a man in the metro station – this one was definitely not my fault.  When we first arrived at this metro station to make our way back to the hostel, I saw this man drinking and leaning against a wall with a group of other middle-aged men.  They were yelling things at women walking past them, “belle fille!  Belle fille!”  Anyways, Ellen and I had to come back to this same station to catch our bus home.  When I hopped off the escalator and started walking into the station, I saw out of the corner of my eye one of the men starting to make a beeline towards me.  I started walking faster, and then he got up next to me and reached out and touched my H&M bag.  At this point, I screamed “GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!” and started sprinting away.  It was a terrifying experience.  I didn’t know if he was going to try and rob me, hurt me, or worse, so I wanted to get the hell away from him as quick as possible.  Ellen later told me he kept going “H M, H M!” and she thought he just wanted to know where an H&M was.  I don’t think a drunk, middle-aged local man would be asking where an H&M is, but who knows.  The situation was creepy, and I stand by somewhat screaming and sprinting away.  Momma didn’t raise no fool.

 

So, there you are folks.  The weird things that happened to me in Brussels, in one, easy-to-read blog post.

Some pics:

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Obviously, there are some more stories to be told about this trip, like the weird Greek waiter who kept making eye contact with me in the Greek restaurant and sprinted over to the window to say goodbye to me when I left the restaurant, but these were the highlights.

Until next time.

xoxo elly

All About Amsterdam!

So, this post is a bit belated, considering I was in Amsterdam two weeks ago.  Cut me some slack!  I’m busy over here doing European things like sitting in cafes and drinking wine on school nights and people-watching on the metro.  Oh, and some shopping might have occurred in that time frame as well.  

Either way, I went to Amsterdam two weekends ago.  Legality of all sorts of things aside, this is an AMAZING city and I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Europe!  The people are so friendly, it was almost like being in the Midwest again!  Either way, it was a nice change from the smugness of everyone in Paris.  Not that people are mean in Paris…they just don’t smile/show any emotion/mean mug like nobody’s business.  They’re not outwardly friendly, but I’ve gauged that you have to be like that to keep freaks from approaching you on the metro and to make it in Paris.  The people in the Netherlands are also WAY on their fashion game.  The scarves I saw in my short time there rivaled all of those that I had seen in Paris!  You could say that I was pretty happy about that.  I ate so much delicious food, took in many interesting sights – including a sex museum, and went off and had the chance to explore the city on my own.  There’s just something about the atmosphere of this city that made it unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  Yeah, yeah, people are telling me “but you haven’t been that many places yet!”  But, I remain by my statement that Amsterdam is the city of my soul.  I could live there forever and be perfectly content.  

Our first night included venturing to the town center for dinner and having a fun night out.  We ended the night with the most delicious chocolate milkshakes I have ever had (if you happen to be in Amsterdam…get a chocolate shake from BK, you won’t regret it).  The next day we found ourselves at an art museum, which I went through pretty quickly and made my way out to find some shopping and explore by myself.  This city has some amazing little boutiques, and I bought some amazing stuff from the H&M(s) that I found!  They truly have everything.  I went to an H&M that had a home section in the store!  It was seven stories tall.  I was swooning over the sheer size of this building.  That night we went to the sex museum, and it was the most interesting 4E I have ever spent.  It had everything you could imagine and even more that you didn’t want to see.  But, it was definitely interesting as well as hilarious.  

Our last day in Amsterdam had us shopping and getting lunch, and the ride home was a lot of fun.  We also went to the Anne Frank house this day.  It was the most interesting and moving experience I have ever had.  I couldn’t believe that I was stepping in the same spots that Anne had stepped in when she was there.  The same bookcase was still in the same spot.  There were marks on one of the walls indicating the changing heights of her and her sister.  I simply couldn’t grasp that I was in that same space.  This is a must-see for anyone and everyone, especially if you’re going to be in Amsterdam.  The entire time I felt eerie walking in the house, but it was also unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  No matter how long you might have to wait in line to get in, go!  There are pages from her diary on display and the same pictures she hung up in her room are still preserved on the walls under glass.

Here are some pictures from this little adventure:

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xoxo elly

My First Week in Paris!

Hello all,

It’s been SO long since I have written in my blog.  Having to write a blog as class work sort of took the fun out of blogging…but now I’m back!  I’m going to be posting (hopefully) every week about my experiences living in Europe for four months.  I’ve only been here a little over a week now, and I’ve already done so much!  I even went on a last-minute trip to Amsterdam, but more on that trip in my next blog post.  This entire moving process has been a large shock to my system.  I’ve been to France before, but I knew I would be returning home in a week or so.  I’m rooted here for four months.  So, leaving my boyfriend, friends, and family was incredibly difficult for me.  Despite missing them more than words can say, what keeps me smiling is knowing that these same people are the ones that have supported me and will continue to support me while I’m on this journey.  I still talk to people from home everyday, and to be honest, with technology, it doesn’t feel like I’m far from home at all.  I’m forced to rely more on myself for things, instead of having a safety net to rely on.  Because I grew up and went to college in the same town, I never really got a chance to be on my own.  Now, I’m on a completely different continent, speaking an entirely different language, and being forced to rely on instinct and asking others for help when I’m lost or don’t understand something.  It’s definitely a big change for me, but it’s certainly not an unwelcome one.

I will post a blog post later about some of the biggest differences between France and the United States, but that will come later.  First, I am going to start with the basics.  I chose to stay with a host family, something I wanted to do to increase my French abilities, but also something that I was very nervous about.  I worried if they would like me, if they would be too strict, whether or not they would have food I would like to eat, and if they would really accept me.  All of these worries disappeared just upon first meeting my host family.  My host mother is one of the kindest people I have ever met.  She’s a very lively woman, who loves traveling (especially to America) and speaking English.  She’s a fabulous cook, and I leave the table every night stuffed with her delicious meals.  My host brother, Chris, is also amazing.  He took us around Paris our first night to see the Eiffel Tower, L’arc de Triomphe, and taught us how to use the metro system.  I honestly don’t know how I would be getting along here if it wasn’t for him.  I don’t feel unafraid to spend hours and hours walking around by myself with no particular destination in mind.  It makes me feel at ease.  I also went to Versailles last week, had orientation for my new university, La Sorbonne, with my program directors, met lots of new people, and obviously ate a lot of carbs.  Did you know that McDonald’s France has coconut milkshakes?!  They do.  And they’re amazing.

Now, for pictures.

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his is a pina coloda crepe!

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This is the view from the study room from my new university.
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This picture is the view from the balcony of my room in the apartment where I am living with my host family.  Isn’t it beautiful?

 

Stay tuned for more updates from my adventures!

xoxo
elly

All About H&M

I decided to write my latest blog post about my favorite store, H&M.  At any given time, I’m wearing at least one article of clothing from this retail giant.  On most days, my entire outfit is from H&M!  You could say I’m just a little bit obsessed…

Not only is H&M an amazing store to shop at, but their social media team is always updating users with the latest trends and deals that can be found in-store.  I’ve gotten a response from their media team before, which was really exciting!  They really do try their hardest to respond to all the tweets that are tweeted at them.  

Recently, H&M launched a collection with designs from Isabel Marant.  They had their Twitter followers hashtag #HMISABELMARANT to show off the new goodies they purchased the day of the release.  I thought it was an interesting way to combine a fashion launch with Twitter.  They’ve been amping up the launch for weeks on Twitter and all of their followers have been patiently waiting in anticipation for the release.a

H&M is known for having a wide selection of clothes at amazing prices, so I’m really excited to see this new collection.  Online shopping wasn’t going to be an option today because http://www.hm.com was so clogged with visitors!  I think this may be the biggest launch that they’ve had yet.  They even had Lady Gaga at their new store in Times Square to celebrate the new collection.  This was clearly a very important event in the fashion world.

What’s your favorite store to shop at?  Have they had any great social media campaigns associated with the launch of a new design collaboration?

 

Elly

All About Hashtags

So, this blog post is all about the “hashtag.”  I think hashtags are both the most obnoxious and hilarious thing to ever come out of social media.  I love whenever I check Twitter to see what the latest things are that are trending.  Most of the time, I see the hashtags that are related to my favorite shows the most, because I like live-tweeting quotes from the newest episodes of Modern Family and New Girl.  But the best hashtags are the ones that Jimmy Fallon has his users tweet while watching his show.  He even made a hilarious video with Justin Timberlake all about how the hashtag has taken over. A lot of people use hashtags in a non-strategic way.  They simply put random words or sentences and make it into one long hashtag.  However, I find it hilarious when people do this, because it pops up under my “now trending” section of my Twitter.

I think hashtags are a great way to connect internet users (mostly through Twitter and Instagram, as well as Facebook now) to each other.  My favorite hashtags to browse are the #shoppinghauls on Instagram, so I can see pictures of the various clothing items people have purchased.  I like seeing what people are buying so I can get outfit and decor inspiration, as well as to see what’s trendy.  Usually when people post their haul pictures, they put the price of their goodies and how anyone could get them at the same price.  I like knowing where I can get the same fashions for a cheap price.

I definitely think that hashtags can help to increase the popularity of a new product with promotional hashtags, gain more attention for a brand through contests, or bring more attention to a television show.  When people see an unusual hashtag from one of the people they are following, they may click on it to see what it is about.  This helps bring attention to the brand.

Either way, the hashtag is here to stay.

What are your thoughts about the hashtag?

Elly

The Real World

Don’t you hate that saying?  As a college student, everyone seems to ask me “So, what do you want to do when you enter the real world?”  What?!  Is the world I’m living in now not real?!  I know exactly what they mean by their question, but that doesn’t make it any less bizarre.  And, truth be told, I have no idea what I want to do when I enter “the real world.”  I want to do a bit of everything.

Like….

  • Own my own small business one day
  • Do freelance social media PR for small businesses
  • Work in a corporate setting, if only for a year or two

I want to find a way to combine my communication degree with a job that will work towards making the world a better place.  I’m not sure if I want to work for some sort of nonprofit or do research, but I’m hoping I will figure it out eventually.  This semester I have taken two life-changing classes that have made me rethink my entire life path.  I used to want to work at Target’s corporate headquarters working on their fashion marketing, now I want to work with an organization that works with women, animals, or the environment.  Animals are probably what I am most passionate about.  My wiener dog, Daisy, is my life.  I can’t stand reading stories about animal abuse – but I absolutely love the organizations and volunteers that spend countless hours trying to give abused pets a better life.

Maybe there is a way to combine my love of fashion and accessories and changing the world.  My friends have suggested making my own scarf collection(!) and making proceeds go to various animal shelters and organizations.  While I absolutely love this idea, I have no clue where to start.  Nor do I have many design skills…

I also know that I want to do several different careers throughout my lifetime, maybe juggle multiple jobs at once.  I currently work as an office assistant, intern for a gentleman who has a hat-making business, and I still want to do more.  I like doing PR for small businesses or helping them out with tips to improve their social media presence.  So I wouldn’t mind doing something like that on a freelance basis once I’m out of school.

These are just some thoughts of the day.

Until next time!

Rebranding: JCP Style

Hello again!

As most of you know by now, I’m a mild shopaholic.  I love shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories (especially scarves) and decor.  One of my favorite stores to shop at is JCPenney.  I am so impressed with how they have completely rebranded themselves in the past couple of years – which is why I can’t understand why anyone dislikes their new image!  I understand why they started their rebranding process – because their original target demographic is getting older, so they needed to keep up with the generations that will continue to shop at their stores.  Unfortunately, this backfired on the company.  Many people thought that they would not be getting the same types of deals from JCP that they were used to when they shopped at the store, flyer in hand, clutching their coupons.  JCP marked down their prices in-store, attempting to eliminate the use of the coupon to appear more upscale.  Many people were not happy with this – even though they were still getting a great deal on clothes, it just wasn’t with a coupon!  The company did make it’s way back to using coupons, I know I get a $10/50 offer in my inbox three times a week!

I am, and always will be, a JCPenney supporter.  I love their new change – the stores are so much more refreshing and clean, the clothes are trendier, and the entire atmosphere of the store has been flipped upside down – in a positive way!

A few of my favorite aspects of their recent change:

  • The catalogues – as someone who loves bright colors and cheery imagery, these catalogues are my favorite.  They replaced their original flyer that came with every Sunday newspaper with beautiful, colorful catalogues that are always well organized and cute.
  • The store – the store doesn’t feel stuffy and overwhelming like it used to.  It’s amazing how properly utilizing space and fresh paint can change a place!
  • The clothes – I have yet to walk into the new JCP and not walk out with something that I have fallen in love with.  Anyone on a budget – stop here for your next big clothing haul.  JCP is the place to go for shoes, boots, infinity scarves, sweaters, and basics.  The best part?  They’re always on sale!

What do you think?  Did JCPenney make the right decision?

Transatlantic Communication

As you all know, I’m planning on studying abroad in Paris during the spring.  While I am incredibly excited to embark on this opportunity, I’m already starting to miss my family and friends.  I’m worried about how often I’m going to be able to talk to them – I’m not trying to spend all my time staying in contact with my friends from home, but I want to keep in touch!  I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to do so.  I can’t always Skype because I won’t always have access to wifi, or have the time to sit down and talk to someone for two hours.

I obsessively talk to my friends and I talk to my mom every single day.  It’s going to be so strange to go without talking to them as much as I do now for four months!  I know these people are all excited for my trip, but it’s definitely not going to be easy to keep in touch with all my best friends and family members while I’m overseas.  I would love if people decided to write me letters – some real old-school communication.  That might be asking too much – but I’m going to be shipping over packages filled with presents all the time!  Plus, handwritten letters are so personal and always brighten up my day.  I know there are going to be some lonely days while I’m abroad, and a letter would be a nice way to carry around a piece of my American life with me.

To anyone who has studied abroad – what were the ways that you kept in touch with family and friends?  What were the best communication platforms – Skype, an international phone plan, or Facebook?  I would love to know  about your experiences!

Until next time,

Elly

Who to follow in the Twitterverse

For my newest blog post, I have decided to write about who I find influential, creative, quirky, and just plain hilarious via Twitter.  I’ll admit, I was very hesitant to join the Twittersphere for several years.  I was utterly convinced that no one cared what a suburb-inhabiting blonde teenager was up to when she got home from school.  Or what she ate for breakfast.  Or what she felt about what she ate for breakfast.  These were the types of tweets I was exposed to.  I didn’t feel the urge to share those thoughts with anyone else.

But, low and behold, I ended up joining the social media website after a night of making up funny possible-Tweets my freshman year of college with my then-roommates.  I’ve been hooked every since.  I realized that Twitter is not just a way to share your opinions, it’s a way to connect with millions of people in seconds.  You can tweet at brands, celebrities, find breaking news before it leaks to the mainstream media, or win prizes.  I decided that I wanted to make a list of some of the most follow-worthy people on Twitter!

1. Zach Braff (@zachbraff) – he’s always tweeting something snarky and sarcastic.  He has a great sense of humor and also reaches out to fans via his Twitter account.  As a big fan of Scrubs, this one is a no-brainer.  I’ve been tweeting at him about every week for months, but still no reply.  It’s okay, Zach, I’ll keep waiting.

2. Taco Bell (@tacobell) – T Bell’s social media is on point.  I follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  They post hilarious statuses and pictures centered around their always great tacos and burritos.  Even if you don’t like Taco Bell (shame), they will post pictures that have you in stitches or salivating.  Or both.

3. Buzzfeed (@buzzfeed- I love, love, love Buzzfeed.  So I like getting all the updates on what’s new on their page as soon as it happens.

4. Any pizza place –  I prefer Domino’s, but that’s just me.  While I catch a lot of slack from my friends based on my preferred chain-pizza joint, they always tweet back when I post a picture of the delicious pizza I am devouring.  Seriously.  Tweet these chains pictures and how much you love their pizza.  They will send you coupons.

5. Horse Ebooks (@horse_ebooks) – what had started as a random spam account has turned into something beautiful.  The weird, cryptic horse tweets have become quite popular from Twitter users everywhere.

Hope you enjoy if you decide to follow!

And follow me @ellybeans_x!

xoxo
elly

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^^ Follow me and you’ll see lots of pictures of this little one.