Monday, October 26, 2015

3 Ways to be the Ultimate Foodie

If you are looking for tips on how to be the best foodie out there, you've come to the right stomping(or shall I say chomping) grounds! It's only right that I follow up a coffee post with food because these guys are partners in crime.

Before we get to the photos, I'll share my Top Three Tips on How to be the Ultimate Foodie:

1. Get food
2. Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat/Twitter photo of food
3. Eat it like there's no tomorrow

Annnnndddd there ya go! With these three tips, a bit of practice, and a camera of some sort(phones work as well) you'll be a foodie in no time!

Melbourne is known to be great foodie city. With a large variety of cuisines to choose from, you will never get bored (or be bothered buying McDonald's or Hungry Jacks-- Burger King if you're in the States). Melbourne also has tons of markets that feature good eats and local food trucks and businesses so you'll be supporting good people too!

Now to show the important stuff: FOOD

Gourmet Pizza with coriander, tomato, peppers, and avocado (Australian)

Cold Ramen with salad and miso soup (Japanese)

Belgian Waffle with strawberries, chocolate drizzle, and powder sugar (Australian/Belgian)

Rice Noodle Soup with spring rolls (Vietnamese)

Savory Pancakes (Japanese)
Original Japanese Savory Pancake with Mayo, coriander, and a special sauce (Japanese)

Pan-fried veggie dumplings (Taiwanese)

Salted caramel, popcorn, and marshmallow filled doughnut (Korean)

Yogurt braised Lamb neck with fennel puree and coriander

And now for the Honorary Street Art Post:



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Perugia Chocolate Festival

As the days go by quickly, my adventures have been continuing throughout my journey here in Florence. I’ve been all around Italy these past two weeks I feel like I’ve barely gotten any time to sit and relax. My schedule has been jammed packed, but everything I’ve been able to do has been so worth it. This past week I planned a trip to the chocolate festival in Perugia. Yes, you read that right, it was a chocolate festival! Chocolate is one of my favorite things in the world so once I heard about this opportunity to go to Perugia for the chocolate festival, I had to take the opportunity. The trip ended up being everything I could have ever dreamt of. Perugia was only about 2 hours away from Florence so, it was really cheap and easy to take a  bus there and back. When I first got to the festival, it was a little overwhelming because there were herds of chocoholics around the area so it was tough to squeeze around people, but it cleared up pretty fast and it didn’t end up being too crowded for the whole time we were there. This chocolate festival ended up being amazing! I was able to try so many different chocolates even this special “ cioccolato clado” they make which is a hot chocolate that is so creamy it tastes like you are eating melted chocolate. I ended up getting a lot of different chocolate bars to bring home like chocolate with cookies, chocolate and peperoncino (hot pepper flakes), and chocolate with dried strawberries in it. By the end of the day I couldn’t possibly eat anymore chocolate, but I was glad I made a lot of chocolate purchases because I knew it would make a great christmas gift for friends and family when I come back.  

In addition to the Perugia chocolate festival, I have also been able to enjoy my time around Florence. My parents came to visit me in Florence. They decided to come visit me for two weeks. I was really excited because I haven’t been able to see them in  a while. Luckily, my dad rented a car and knows Italy well so, he came with an itinerary with a lot of fun and new things to do. The first day they arrived, we went out to a nice dinner to a new place I’ve never been to. It was nice being able to indulge on some good food and gelato while my parents are here because I’m on a student budget while I’m here alone. The next day was even better! We went to a wine tasting at a winery in Sienna. At this winery we were able to learn a lot about specific wines in Tuscany and how they were made. We also learned about the age of the wine and what the differences are between the older wines compared to the younger wines. This was a really exciting experience because not only did I get to see a beautiful winery and try great wines, I had the greatest view of the Tuscan Countryside which is always a nice change of scenery from the busy streets of Florence. The wine tasting also allowed me to meet and talk to new people who were tasting wines as well. This gave me the chance to practice my Italian and talk to people other than the younger study abroad students who I have been constantly surrounded by.

The wine tasting with my parents was a great experience and although I am not an expert on wine, I already feel like I am a lot more knowledgable and can appreciate nicer wines a lot more now. Now that the weekend is over, I unfortunately have to go back to studying and classes because it is midterm week for us. I can’t believe I’m halfway through the semester already! I’m definitely not ready to go back in two months because I still have so much to look forward to. I am leaving for Barcelona this coming weekend with a few friends from here. We were able to find cheap flights and decided we had to take advantage of the opportunity while we are abroad. I cannot wait to go because Barcelona has always been a place I’ve been wanting to visit. I can’t wait to share my experiences from this coming weekend! The week can’t go by fast enough!


 Keys made out of chocolate at the 
Perugia Chocolate Festival

Scenery at the Tuscan Winery

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Coffee Culture

Hey guys! It's been a busy week here in Melbourne with final exams and classes quickly approaching. However, that has not stopped me from my exploration of Melbourne. This week I have a bunch of yummy coffee adventures to share with you.

WARNING: The photos featured in this post will make you desire coffee right this moment and you will most likely stand abruptly and run to your nearest cafe in search of coffee with beautiful taste notes and latte art. If you are not prepared for these side affects, do not continue! (I'm kidding please do continue for my sake)

Anyway, coffee is a massive part of Melbourne culture and this is evident by the countless number of cafes throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.

Something no one told me about coffee culture in Melbourne was that it is more than just the beverage that you receive when you go buy your daily latte(and the resulting caffeine rush). You receive the experience that the cafe and the people within it have to offer. You support local businesses that put their love and care into roasting beautiful coffee beans that are full of taste and flavor notes. You support the local farmers that provide milk from healthy cows. You bond with friends and fellow Uni students over coffee. You meet new people and you learn new things about the world through coffee.

*End poetic speech*

Now that I am done my coffee speech I will show you these life changing coffees and which Melbourne cafes are my favorite thus far.

The first cafe I experienced is located right at my uni and it is FANBAULOUS (it's so good that I have to use more than one word to describe it). Oscar Mike is a small cafe located right outside of Glenferrie train station and it caters to people who are rushing but need their coffee before they get to where they're going. Oscar Mike serves locally roasted coffee and a variety of fresh lunch and snack items(that taste like the meaning of life).

Regular flat white with one sugar.
 Cafe Blac is a beautifully designed cafe located in Hawthorn (Glenferrie Road). With plenty of space for groups to sit and chat, work on projects, or read. The reading room is IMMACULATE and the coffee compliments it well. I actually ran into a friend who works at this cafe(see coffee=bonding with friends).
Large Cappuccino with one sugar.
 This was actually a restaurant that slipped into on Degraves Street (look it up-- this place is like a food/shopping/coffee mecca). I forgot the name of this restaurant which makes me a slightly horrible person, but I will get it very soon!
Raspberry Hot Chocolate
 Cupcake Central has two of the world's greatest things: coffee and cupcakes! I was sold on strictly the title. But upon walking in I was welcomed with warmth(and did I mention cupcakes?). This cafe is also located in Hawthorn (two doors down from Oscar Mike), and it is quite a treat. It's ridiculously easy to slip in here and have a coffee and a baby cupcake during a break between your classes(time will fly--seriously). And with the wide range of cupcake flavors, it is nearly impossible to not purchase one.
Flat White with one sugar
 By far my most visited cafe, Mario's Coffeehouse. They offer student discounts, yummy treats, and flavored coffee beans that are roasted locally. This beautiful old style cafe has comfortable seating and amazing staff that love what they do. The cafe also offers coffee bean, personal cups and store branded merchandise.
Large Mocha
 This small, quaint cafe off of Collin's street is the perfect place to go for a sweet snack, coffee, and a break from the bustling life of the CBD. I also do not have the name for this cafe either (please don't hate me). After an afternoon of walking around in the CBD, I was desperate for an afternoon snack and a breaking from all the walking I had done. I popped into this little cafe and had an amazing time(the young woman even helped me find something that catered to my allergies).
Regular mocha ft. an apricot danish

So if you're ever in Melbourne, don't EVER pass up a coffee. Like ever. Seriously. 

And now for a new thing that I am starting. Because I love the street art(see my post about it here), I will be posting my weekly favorite street art piece. I think I'll call it the Honorary Street Art Post.

Annnnnnnddddd here she/he/it is:



Friday, October 16, 2015

The Beautiful Tuscan Countryside

One of my favorite parts about studying abroad in Italy is that I am able to hop on a train and travel to places I’ve always dreamt of going to. Fortunately, the manageable amount of classwork I have and the convenient location of Florence makes it easy to plan affordable weekend trips with some friends. Within these past 4 weeks, I have already visited many places within Italy like Cinque Terre, Siena, San Gimignano, Sorrento, Pompeii, and even the beautiful countryside of Tuscany. 

Each place had their own unique character and charm, but what stood out to me the most was the beautiful scenery of the Tuscan countryside. My friend Ashlynn and I decided to leave the busy streets of Florence for a few hours to go check it out. Although we ran into some bad luck at first, I’m happy to say that luck turned around and it ended up being one of my favorite trips so far. 

After much anticipation, the day of the bike ride finally rolled around and I was so ready to go; however, the wether was not. Of course, the entire week was nice and sunny, but it rains when I actually plan an outdoor activity. Ashlynn and I didn’t want this to ruin our day so we decided to throw our rain jackets and rain boots on and left to meet our cycle group. As we were walking in the pouring rain to find the bike shop, we came across unfamiliar territory. Since we didn't have a map and we both don’t have data on our cellphones for GPS, we relied on asking vendors inside stores. (Who probably got us more lost because I found out that they will give you the most specific directions even when they aren’t sure where something is). Regardless, we finally found the store and since we were so late we knew we missed the tour already and were hoping to just reschedule. Luckily, the owner was very nice and helpful and we were able to reschedule our bike ride for the following week.

The long walk in the rain ended up being a blessing in disguise. Besides developing an amazing sense of direction, the new day we rescheduled was a beautiful day and I know we would have had a miserable experience if we ended up going the first time in the rain. In addition to the beautiful weather, Ashlynn and I experienced some more luck. We traveled 20 minutes out in a van to the countryside with four other people. The 4 others however, didn’t even end up being on the same tour as us because they chose to ride vespas around instead of riding a bike. Ashlynn and I ended up enjoying our own private tour where we could stop whenever we wanted to take pictures or to take a break from riding our bikes. Our tour guide was extremely friendly too and we enjoyed cruising around the countryside for about 2 hours. After the ride was over, we reconnected with the 4 other people and enjoyed a delicious lunch and wine tasting before we headed back to Florence in the van. The entire activity was only 70 euros with the van ride, bike ride, lunch, and wine tasting included. It was so much fun and completely worth it!

In addition to traveling within Italy, I am also planning on traveling to other places in Europe. I am lucky that I do not have any friday classes so traveling outside of Italy is easy when you have a long weekend! On the last weekend of October I booked my flight to go to Barcelona, Spain! I have never been to Spain before, but a few of my friends from home have and told me I have to go! I figured I might as well take advantage of the opportunity while I am here. In addition to the Barcelona trip, I am also planning on going to Mainz, Germany in December! My friend from my school abroad has a cousin who lives in Mainz that we can stay with so, luckily we only had to worry about our flight there and back! When I was little, my family and I went to Germany during Christmas time and I remember it being beautiful with all the Holiday decorations and lights strung around the city. However, my memories are very vauge becuase I was only 5 years old so, I'm excited to go back now and get into the Christmas spirit.

With all of these weekends filled up and constantly being on the go over here, I've been missing my down time at home with my friends and family. My parents are coming to visit me just in time though! They'll be arriving in a week. I can't wait to show them around!

The beautiful view I got to see as I rode my bike around!

My friend Ashlynn and I cycling through Tuscany. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

My Fear of the "Emotional Rollercoaster"

It is now the fourth week of my study abroad experience and I am happy to say I am just as excited as I was when I first arrived in Florence. Prior to studying abroad, I was nervous about the “emotional rollercoaster” that people told me typically happens during your semester abroad. This “emotional rollercoaster” is the series of emotions you may encounter while you are away. The first week or two is known to be very exciting because everything is new and you are constantly meeting new friends. The next stage you typically hit is the “depression stage”. Throughout this stage, the the new, fresh feeling you had as you first landed has faded and your work load picks up in school. In addition, you begin to miss your friends and family at home and you realize you have to adjust to the different cultures and customs of the country you are in. Luckily, I would consider myself in the second phase of this “emotional rollercoaster” and I have not been sad at all. Although the Italian culture and the language they speak are different, I am able to hold on to a positive attitude and try my best to learn the Italian style. 

Although I do not have Italian in my blood, I am obsessed with the language and the culture, so it makes sense why I would choose to study abroad here. Practicing Italian is a lot harder than I thought it would be (the majority of people here speak fluent english) so in hopes of becoming fluent and learning about the Italian lifestyle, I became friends with an Italian student named Alice who goes to Accademia Italiana as well. My Italian professor introduced us to each other in the hallway when I was on my way to class. We exchanged numbers and she answered back to me that same day! I am so excited this happened because I wanted to meet an Italian student from the start, but I found it difficult because I didn’t have any classes with them and I am not yet confident enough with the Italian language to go up to a random Italian in the hallways and start speaking to them in their language. Luckily, Alice is very nice and welcoming. We just met a few days ago and have already planned on meeting sometime this week or next week. I’m excited to finally practice Italian and to learn more about her! I’m so curious about the places she shops at or where her favorite bars and restaurants are. I’m a little nervous to meet with her because unlike texting, I know I do not have google translator in front of me to help me out! I feel like this will be a great push for me to practice Italian and I will hopefully get the insight I’m looking for so I do not have to feel like an american tourist anymore. 

This past week was a very busy one for me. In addition to meeting a new Italian friend, I finally got myself a phone with an Italian number! I wasn’t going to get an Italian phone at first because my parents got a texting plan for me so I can text back home, but I needed a number for around here just in case I needed to get in touch with someone from Italy and I didn’t have wifi. Fortunately, I found a phone store where you can rent a basic Nokia phone for free and you pay as you go. Texts cost 12 cents per outgoing text and calls cost 15 cents a minute. It was the most perfect option for me and now I will be prepared in case of an emergency! 

Even though I’ve been very busy with everything, I have not been feeling overwhelmed at all and I am still looking forward to the new experiences during this semester. It is already flying by! 

Here’s a picture of my new phone! I never thought I’d use one of these again, 
but it's very convenient so I love using it here!


Friday, October 9, 2015

Speaking the Aussie Language

G'Day Mate! Today I will be sharing some Aussie lingo with you. Living with a host family has really given me experiences that I would have never gotten if I lived on campus-- like when I got swooped by a magpie but that's a different story for a different time(just google swooping magpies and you will understand my pain). ANYWAY, back to Aussie lingo. I'm sure many of you have seen this video (and if you haven't-It's a MUST)!

I've learned quite a few Aussie terms during my stay that have been helpful when speaking to my host family. Here are some of them:

G'day: Hello
Arvo: Afternoon
Bloke: Man
Bogan: a very uncouth individual
Uni: University
Mozzie: Mosquito
Doona: Bed cover; quilt; duvet
Devo: Devastated
Garbo: Garbage Man 
Rubbish: Trash; to criticize
Good onya: Well done
Hoon: a reckless driver
Postie: postman
Barby: barbecue 
Big night: an exhausting evening
Brekky: Breakfast
Dodge: untrustworthy; sketchy
Heaps: a lot
Mate: friend
Roo: Kangaroo
Ute: an open-backed pick up truck
Footy: Football; Aussie Rules (AFL)
Thongs: Flip-flops
Cheers: Thank you; Good-bye
Pram: Stroller
Trolley: Shopping cart
Docket: receipt; bill
Nappies: diaper
Fortnight: biweekly; every two weeks
"How are you going?": "How are you?"; "How are you doing?"
Cheeky: saucy; bold
Boot: The trunk of a car
Bench: counter top
"Up oneself":  To have a high opinion of oneself;cocky, over-confident
Bathers: Swim suit
Runners: Running shoes
Spewin': to vomit; angry
Sunnies: Sunglasses
Milk Bar: mom and pop shop; small convenience store
No Worries: Expression of forgiveness or reassurance
Pokies: Poker machine

Try using some of these terms for a day and see how you go!


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Exploring my New Surroundings

The first week of Florence was slightly overwhelming, but still very exciting at the same time. After the first night in Florence, I woke up around 8:00am because I was so excited to go outside and explore. I left my apartment around 8:30am and to my surprise, the streets were pretty empty. People were just opening up their stores and setting up their tents for the outdoor markets in the piazza by my apartment building. I figured that Italians start their day a little later than I had expected. I continued to walk further down the street in hopes of finding a more open spaces like a piazza. The streets of florence are very small and almost looks like a maze, so I was afraid of getting lost. If I were in the states, I would usually go on my phone and use my GPS, but here in Florence, I do not have data on my phone without WIFI so, I had to get used to relying on street signs rather than my iPhone. This was so difficult for me, but it helped me in the long run because I was able to familiarize myself with my surroundings faster.

After just a few minutes of walking, I was able to find my school! To my relief, it took about 5 minutes to get there from my apartment and it was also surrounded by many cafes and stores. I could not wait to eat and shop! I decided to find a cafe and order myself a coffee and something for breakfast. There was a small cafe by my school called Cafe Bianchi that I decided to try out. After practicing how to order my coffee over and over in my head I finally ordered in Italian to test out my skills. The waitress could tell I was American (probably because of my american accent) and answered me back in english. I was a little thrown off because I wanted to practice Italian, but in a way it was comforting to hear english and I didn’t feel like a fish out of water. 

After enjoying my first cappuccino and pastry, I decided to keep walking towards the river to see more of Florence. The streets suddenly became very busy as all the shops and restaurants began to open. I could tell this was a touristy area because there were a lot of small gift shops and large groups of people following tour guides. Since the streets were filled with people, it was nice to walk along the river where the space was more open and the view was so amazing as well. As I continued to walk along the river, I not only was familiarizing myself with my surroundings, but I was also using the opportunity to people watch. One of the first things I noticed was that no one was out jogging or wearing any workout clothes. This surprised me because athletic wear is a big trend in the United States. It’s acceptable and fashionable in the states to wear athletic wear even if you are not planning on working out. So many questions started running through my mind. Do people work out here? How are they not overweight? And where can I go to workout? I enjoy working out because it releases stress and makes me feel better and in addition, I knew for sure that I will be eating a lot of pizza, pasta, and gelato so I had to figure out where to workout soon.

The next few days throughout the week consisted of meeting new students in my apartment building and getting ready to start school. Luckily, we had 2 days of orientation that week for the international students so, I was able to see what the classrooms looked like and I got to meet the other international students as well. There are about 50 international students and 400 students within the entire school, so it is a small university. It was really cool to meet the students at this school because unlike Drexel, Accademia Italiana is just a design school so everyone I met had similar interests as me. 

Thanks to the two day orientation, I felt better about starting school the following Monday. The students and professors I met were all very nice and welcoming and the classes were not hard to find. The only slight issue I had was that my class schedule was messed up. I was in classes I did not sign up for and it made me nervous because I needed to make sure I was taking certain  to in order to stay on track with my courses at Drexel. Thankfully, the professors at Accademia were very helpful and my advisor was able to meet with me right away to change my schedule around. 

Although everything was going well so far and the people I met were really nice, I was a little upset that I barely had the chance to practice Italian. Everyone who lives in my building is from the United States and when I am trying to order food or drinks in Italian at a restaurant, the waiters answer me back in english. Practicing Italian was going to be harder than I thought. However, I knew I couldn’t be too discouraged yet considering I was only there for a few days and school hasn’t started yet. So far, everything was going well and although I was already missing friends and family, I was excited to start my semester long journey here! 

This is the view from the rooftop terrace at my school

The river I walk along to get to class

Thursday, October 1, 2015

MSFW: Emerging Runway 2

As a tribute to Fashion Month, I would like to share my Melbourne fashion experiences with you. Melbourne Spring Fashion week (MSFW) occurred about a month ago and it was such an experience! This was my very first official runway show and it was a night to remember.

MSFW 2015 was 7 days of complete fashion takeover in Melbourne Town Hall. However, runway shows were not the only events to be seen at. Events such as Shop the City, the Emerging Designer Market, Sketchbook, and various pop-up shops provided the opportunity for fashionistas to display their style and find the new must have pieces for this spring.

I attended the Emerging Runway 2 on Sunday, August 30th. The Emerging Runway is an opportunity for up-and-coming designers from various fashion schools  across Melbourne to display their work. The schools that were feature in this show were:
  1. Box Hill Institute
  2. Kangan Institute
  3. Holmesglen Institute
  4. RMIT School of Fashion & Textiles
  5. FashionMasters
  6. Whitehouse Institute of Design
Each school featured 3-6 students, each with 3 looks. Below are some of the photos I took at the show.

DISCLAIMER: Please excuse the quality of my photos, as I was seated a fair distance from the runway and at a rather awkward angle.

To redeem myself a little (until I can improve my fashion photography skills of course), I have also shared a video of the final walk. Also for highlights from the show, click here to check out a video created by MSFW TV. Enjoy!