10 Things People Don’t Tell You about Studying Abroad

As some of you may have noticed, 1st on Trend went dormant for a little bit. That was because I did the best thing (and most likely the best thing I will ever do in college) that I could have possibly done for myself– I studied abroad. Unlike a majority of colleges, my university requires all of us to study abroad at some point in our four years here– whether it be for a few weeks during the summer or an entire semester, everyone who currently attends Susquehanna University has been required to go abroad.

I spent the months of August to December in London. I was enrolled at Regents University London– I lived in the dormitories on the American College’s campus in the beautiful Regents Park off of Baker Street– and I can say without a doubt that it was the best experience of my life. I traveled to Cardiff, Edinburgh, the Highlands of Scotland, Oxford, Bath, Brighton, Stonehenge, Paris (EURODISNEY!!!!), Amsterdam, and Kephalonia (a small island off the coast of Greece). I saw about 10 castles and/or royal country houses for a class (my inner art history nerd flourished). I attended London Fashion Week– I sat in on the Fyodor Golan show– the London Edge convention, and London Comic-Con (where I met Andrew Lee Potts!!!). But most importantly– and the reason for why I decided to not blog while I was there– I figured out more of who I am as a person. I learned how big of an influence art is in my life; that I love traveling to new places; that I loved hanging out on the weekends with friends who were hardly “posh” (except for one ginger); and that I met some of the best people in my life while out there.

This blog is a list of 10 things I wish someone had told me before I left for London. This list pertains to the before, during, and aftermath of your adventures. So, here goes:

  1. You will find yourself
    1. This is very much a cliche belief– but it is very true. Until you are abroad, you won’t even understand some of the small, unique things you love. Like, small waffles from various vendors in the streets, or shopping in the Turkish markets, or negotiating over prices of food and cool stuff in the Camden Lock. You will find out that you are very passionate about things– whether it be art or food or foreign television or sports– and you will thrive on it and find a community that loves you for it (and people who won’t vocally judge you for it too much).
  2. You will try things you never thought you would
    1. What you never thought you would be seeing about 6 million bodies under the city of Paris? Or eating actual Italian food in Italy? Or swimming in the clearest water of the Mediterranean? You will do things big and small no matter where you go. Whether it is trying food you have only ever heard of on Bizarre Foods or exploring an ancient castle or taking photos of the canals around the Red Light District of Amsterdam, there are things you will never have thought of yourself doing. And the best part about all of it is that you don’t even realize you did something like this until you are already done with it.
  3. You will make some of the best friends of your life out there
    1. You will meet some of the most amazing people when you travel abroad. Whether they be American, European, African, Asian, South American, whatever, they will be some of the most unique and amazing friends of your life. They will add a new spice to your life and conversations and make everything seem more exciting (especially if you both are doing something new together).
  4. You will miss said friends insanely when you return to the States and realize they aren’t down the hall from you anymore
    1. One problem with those amazing friends– after the semester or year is done, you all go back to far off places. And there is nothing more rough in life than when you realize you can’t just walk down the hall to show one of your best friends an amazing video– because she is now back home…in Missouri. Or that you can’t just call your friend and ask to get lunch with them because they are back at their school in Connecticut. Or that there are no more random photos with some of your friends because they are either in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts or (worst of all) still back where you were studying abroad. Essentially, a majority of the people that you become friends with abroad require extensive driving or a plane ride in order to see them in person again.
  5. You will buy clothes and stuff that your European friends think are awesome and you will feel silly wearing them back in the States
    1. So you bought that epic jacket, shoes, jewelry, etc. while you were abroad? That is awesome– until the people back at home stare at you for wearing it. Your excuse will be that your friends from Europe/Asia/Africa/Wherever You Went loved it and thought it was so cool or that everyone there was wearing it. Some people will love that, others not caring. But you know what, those are unique, amazing things that you sure can’t get back here in the States. So, you know what, wear those epic clothes and things you brought back– they are signs you went someone much more interesting and life changing than where you currently are.
  6. You will miss some completely random things when you come back.
    1. Walkers. Just Walkers.
  7. You will reference adventures that your friends back at home won’t understand
    1. Remember that time we went to the greyhound races and walked along a highway and though an incredibly sketchy park in the middle of the night? …..Oh, wait, you weren’t there for that….
  8. You will wake up one morning and suddenly remember you aren’t abroad anymore
    1. Even after being back home for a month or more, there will be days you wake up and think you are abroad…until you open your eyes. There will be mornings this immediately depresses you. There will be mornings this makes you nostalgic. And there will be mornings you look up flights for that afternoon back to London. But this will work itself out over time– it is part of the readjusting process and will take time. Just be patient with it.
  9. Your data plan will be the most amazing feeling when you return
    1. The most euphoric feeling when you land back in the US? Having data again. Relying on inconsistent university wifi; signing up for random things and ads so you can use wifi for a glorious 15 minutes; getting angry when you are told you have to pay for wifi; and crying a little bit on the inside when the wifi goes out just as you were sending an important message. Being able to text people, call them, and message people when you don’t have wifi is a very relieving feeling.
  10. You won’t feel the same after– and you won’t realize it until you come back.
    1. The last and final thing that is that you will change when you go abroad. However, you won’t really realize it until you come back. People will say you look different (especially if you, let’s say, dye your hair purple while abroad) and you act different. You will slowly come to realize that being abroad changed you without you consciously being aware of it. You will feel restless not being able to travel everywhere anymore; or knowing you have to drive somewhere instead of having amazing public transportation; or that you can suddenly convert money in your head. It’s the little things– but they can add up to some amazing changes.

Was there anything you thought should make the list? Have you studied abroad? Plan on it or hoping to?

What Happened to You, Revel?

This past weekend I went to the Revel Resorts and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for my birthday. I went there last year to celebrate my graduation and I was thoroughly impressed with the entire place and said I would excitedly come back (please check out my previous reviews on the Revel’s style, food, entertainment, etc.). However, upon my return I was honestly disappointed.

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Back in March of 2013, The Revel filed for bankruptcy due to their high debt– $1.5 billion to be exact– and not enough customers. However, as of two days ago, the Revel filed that they have paid off $1.2 billion of that debt and will be changing their marketing technique. Previously they marketed themselves as a high-class resort that happened to have a casino– rather than how the Borgata, Taj Mahal, Tropicana, and Ceasar’s (some of the more iconic resorts and casinos in AC) market themselves as casinos that have other amenities. And while I still love the style of the Revel– it’s pool, Skygarden, and the style of the overall resort are impecable– there were some things that just disappointed me. I could see where things had expanded– such as the stores in the Rowe and elements of the casino– but then there were areas that had been cut back on– the flowers were gone and the food was not as good (too much salt and flour).

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The Revel has announced that they are improving their casino in order to attract more customers. Already, they have added a section for their “Pearls” (high rollers, or million dollar gamblers) and they added a whole new section of slot machines and a bar to the casino. That should definitely be on the top of the Revel’s list since their casino was relatively empty, while Ceasar’s and the Borgata’s were full, even in the off-season. As well, they have expanded their nightclub to where you can enter through the casino and the Skygarden.

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The Revel also says they are going to expand their restaurant options– allowing for more consumer friendly options along with the celebrity chef (and high priced) restaurants they already have. While I was there, I tried a few of the other restaurants I had not on my last visit. I tried the taco truck, Distrito Cantina, with my parents and boyfriend and we were all thoroughly disappointed. The portions were incredibly small– my boyfriend’s order of salsa, which cost almost $20, was in a container the size of a scotch glass and had two chips and two avocado slices, and we were charged for more chips– or not made correctly– instead of getting tomatos on the nachos my mother and I ordered, we got onions. We also tried Luke’s, which is a new restaurant that is similar to a European market with food out everywhere and ready to go, and I was impressed with it overall. It was very good (although my boyfriend said his hot dog tasted like rubber) and had many options. It is still fairly new and still has time to improve.

I think what the Revel is doing is great and it is improving their reputation amongst the places on the boardwalk. It just needs to keep in mind both its customers and location. My only suggestion is that they add more things for the people under 21 to do. I am still two years from the legal age to gamble and drink in most states, including New Jersey, and my boyfriend and I got fairly bored in the resort after a while– thank god for a boardwalk and other resorts. The Revel has said that is trying to emulate the casinos and resorts in Las Vegas, but those places accomodate for all age groups and provide entertainment for everyone. The Revel runs out of things to do after some time. So, maybe allow for 18, 19, or 20 year olds to come into the nightclub, or construct an area for children and teenagers to go to. It would make it easier on parents and families to come to the resort and casino since they do not need to worry about their children.

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So, will I be returning to the Revel? The answer is most likely. I will probably come with my friends in 2 years, when we are all 21, so we can go to the club and casino and bars. It will make it easier for all of us to have fun and enjoy ourselves when we have everything open to us. Until then, I wish you the best of luck Revel and I look forward to seeing where you go and expand.

All photos are taken by me.

What do you think? Have you been to the Revel Resorts and Casino? Do you plan on going?

Where in the World Has Mikaela Been?

As some of you know, I have had not had a plethora of time to keep 1st on Trend updated like I do during the summer months. Well, that is due to being at college. I am currently finishing my first year at Susquehanna University and it has been incredible. So, I am uploading a video I made of me, my friends, the love of my young life, and my school. I could never thank everyone enough for including me and making me a member of their “family.”

Love you all and cannot wait until next semester!

All photos belong to me but the music (“Still Into You”) is property of Paramore, Fueled by Ramen, Atlantic Records and Warner Group Records. All rights reserved.

Photo of the Month: April

Photo of the Month: April

This photo, which features Puerta Rican super model Joan Smalls, just says “summer” to me– and I need that really bad right now after a snowy winter season. The flowing dress, from Narcisco Rodriguez, is just plain gorgeous and makes me want to wear it to the beach. The simplicity and romanticism of the shot is what makes this photo so great. It brings back that nostalgia of being at the beach or being on a boat for the first time, when it was amazing and new.

This photo was shot in the April 2013 issue of American Vogue. The photographer was Patrick Demarchelier.

What do you think of April’s photo of the month? And are you looking forward to summer?

Where Were The National Costumes at The Miss Universe 2012 Competition?

Every year since I was about seven I have watched the Miss Universe Competition and my favorite part has always been the beginning, which is when each girl is introduced in her national costume. The last year they actually showed all of the costumes on television was in 2010, but in the 2011 competition they started using short, colorful dresses, all of which were from the same designer, instead.

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And, rather than showing the “National Costumes Parade,” the network showed a montage of all the costumes in thirty brief seconds. But, what is the point of not showing these costumes? They are absolutely stunning (or ridiculous) and are visually interesting to watch. As well, the designers of these costumes are being given a huge honor to show the world their design and they thus work hard to perfect these looks. Instead, they now show one dress in four different colors. So, I have been disappointed for two years to not see the costumes in all of their glory.

Why would they no longer show these costumes? Is it because they want more sex appeal for the male audience and trying to recreate the costumes from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (which I discussed in a previous post)? Because if that is the point, then they are being ridiculous since some costumes (such as the one below of Miss Romania) are just as provocative as the lingerie in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

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Instead of the parade being on television, they now do it before the competition airs and award the best costume, which was China this year (see the two photos below) and Mexico (third photo) came in second.

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Overall, these costumes are stunning and have been worked on for a long time by dedicated designers. And instead, Mr. Trump decides he wants all of them in generic, short dresses in one of four colors. Really, Mr. Trump? Really?

Look at the various costumes from this year and you decide. Do you think they should include the National Costume Parade in the Miss Universe Competition again, or do prefer the dresses they now have?

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Studio 921 Salon & Day Spa

I have decided to slowly begin reviewing locations– such as spas, restaurants, stores, and more–  either around me or places I visit. The reviews will hopefully turn people on to some really fantastic stores and businesses that truly stand out and deserve recognition.

Studio 921 Salon and Day Spa— located at 921 E. Fort Ave in Baltimore, MD— has been named as one of the top salons in Baltimore for 4 years in a row and has also been featured in American Elle magazine as places to go for hair. I went to 921 for the first time yesterday after a hairdresser I had been going to for about two years dyed my hair black (I asked for a brown-red!) and chopped all of it off. Needless to say, I was a upset (I was up until three in the morning on Thanksgiving scrubbing Dawn soap into my hair trying to get the color out) and I was panicking. I honestly could not go back to college with that hair– it would have been horrible. So, my mother booked me an appointment at 921, which squeezed me in at the last minute.

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921 is located in an old factory that has been refurbished for businesses and offices in Locust Point, which is next to Federal Hill. The minute you walk into 921, you notice the clean space and juxtaposition of the old structure and modern furniture. It feels sleek, modern, and welcoming and instantly relaxed me as I walked in (with a large hat over my hair, of course).

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I was immediately taken back into the studio, where Beth, the technician, treated my hair. She was wonderful– not only did she get the color out in a way that did not ruin my hair, but she put in the color I asked for. She was very kind and did her job expertly. After she fixed my hair color, I was taken to Joe, who changed the kindergartener-like haircut into something Vidal Sassoon would marvel at. He expertly snipped at the layers and made it both grown-up and edgy, which is exactly what I wanted.

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921 offers many more services besides haircuts and hair dyes– they offer manicures, massages, waxes, and most spa treatments. I know a friend, who suffered a bad back injury while playing rugby, who went to 921 for a massage for her chronic back pain. She not only said that it felt nice and relieved her pain, but it also helped her straighten her posture and the effects lasted much longer than she expected.

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Overall, Studio 921 and Day Spa is a fantastic place to go to for any spa treatments or for your hair. The employees are extremely attentive and will not let you walk out unless you are 100% happy with your services. I truly loved my experience there and will be going back to Beth and Joe for all of my future hair appointments.

And the best part about it all? I walked out of there without the hat on my head.

What do you think? Have you been to Studio 921 and Day Spa? And are you interested in going there for services?

Phone: (410) 783-7727 

Service Hours:

Monday: 11 AM — 6 PM

Tuesday: 11 AM — 8 PM

Wednesday: 11 AM — 8 PM

Thursday: 11 AM — 8 PM

Friday: 10 AM — 6 PM

Saturday: 9 AM — 5 PM

Sunday: 10 AM — 5 PM 

http://www.studio921spa.com/

What to Wear for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday defined by spending time with family, parades, (american) football, and eating more food than your stomach can possibly contain. Well, there are different types of outfits to wear for different events during the day– but with so many people visiting and seeing you, you will never look unfashionable.

Parade/Outdoor Activities:

Whether you are going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York or the one in your small town, parades on Thanksgiving are activities to be seen and to impress your family, friends, and neighbors. This is the time to wear layers and a nice pair of boots– comfort, but with style. I suggest a nice warm sweater that is belted, a pair of dark skinny jeans, a stylish cross-body bag, and either interesting shoes (preferably in a pattern) or a bright scarf. Remember a stylish coat and gloves as well.

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Thanksgiving Dinner

Whether you are eating out, at another person’s house, or your own house, what you wear can make or break the impression people have of you and everything about you. No lie, a friend of mine turned a horribly burnt turkey into something no one audibly complained about just because she looked stunning, which made everything around her seem just as lovely.

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For a more casual Thanksgiving dinner, I suggest a simple dress, unique accessoires that spice up the outfit, and trendy (but comfortable) shoes. You want to impress people and look nice, but you don’t want to look “posh” in a casual and intimate environment.

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If you need to go out to a fancy restaurant, a family member’s house, or to your in-laws’ house, then you should consider dressing more formal. Wear a nice dress that hits the knee or lower in length and has a modest neckline. As well, consider wearing a nice coat and/or blazer. Be bold in your jewelry– just not too bold– and make your accessories (i.e. your purse and shoes) ladylike yet modern.

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What do you think? How are you celebrating Thanksgiving– and will it be formal or informal? What do you think of the suggestions given, or do you have any more to offer?

Happy Thanksgiving!