Wednesday, October 29, 2014

City Streets, Never Sleep.

Polka Dot Top: Aeropostale.
Tan Slacks: Zara.
Red Trench: Forever21.
Scarf, Flats H&M.
Beret: AA.

Hi! :) 

Another outfit from London! I really enjoyed dressing for the weather there and taking on classic London style. I've definitely noticed shifts in what I like to wear and what I'm drawn to since coming to Europe. I'm in a constant pull of what I like to wear it seems. Sometimes all I want is a classic black, white, and red outfit, and then other times minimalistic European style, then other times back to my vintage roots. I suppose my style is a strange mixture of all of those right now, but I don't mind. It's fun to watch my style evolve and transform through my stay here and be influenced by what I experience.

We had a lecture on sustainable fashion while I was in London, and it really opened my eyes and got me thinking more about the topic I suppose. It's never been something I've been interested in before-- I always thought sustainable fashion... yawn, boring, boring, boring...but after properly learning what sustainable fashion is comprised of, I've realized I've been in support of it all along (well, kind of). Sustainable fashion isn't just ecologically friendly clothes. It's about watching your buying habits and how much you buy. In America, we have these huge wardrobes of dozens of pieces that most times, we don't even wear or need. The production of those pieces took labor, energy, materials, and so much just for me to be a mindless consumer. Europeans do an awesome job of having limited wardrobes, buying more quality pieces that last longer and aren't subject to fast fashion and just buying mindlessly. I'm jealous of them, and it's something I want to try and work into my buying habits. Obviously I'm not doing a good job because my outfit above is from all fast fashion brands, but I'm glad my eyes have at least been opened now to these types of things. Sustainable fashion also includes supporting artisans and craftsmanship. I've seen and witnessed such art over here in Europe that they put into their clothes and individual labor that can be appreciated versus the turn out of thousands of same made, cheap, poorly crafted garments. Although cheaply made clothing may be convenient and budget friendly, these sort of things promote poor working conditions, child labor, and just sketchy practices. It's important to know where your clothing is coming from; that the company is transparent in their practices, acquirement of materials, and their distribution as well. And my favorite thing about sustainable fashion--buying vintage! Using what we have already produced is so important and I've always just done it because I preferred the styles more...but it is so helpful to the sustainable fashion movement to thrift and buy vintage to better maintain the raw materials that we have left now; which truthfully, isn't much. It was shocking to me to learn about the world we'll be left in 50 years if we don't change the way we are consuming resources and our production methods. It's scary, for not only this generation but for the generations to come.

It will be hard for me to change my shopping and buying habits after learning all of this information and really understanding the predicament the fashion industry is in. I want cheap clothes. I'm a student and can't afford expensive things and the places I want to shop are of course the worst culprits of bad fashion practices (often times, not all the time!). But I definitely want to try to even readjust even little things like upcycling my clothes more, wearing them till they truly fall apart, knowing more about the companies I buy from and their polices...little things like that. I can't swear off fast fashion and never buy again because that's hypocritical of me; but I do think it's important to try and take the change within myself because if not now, when?

With much love, Lauren.

P.S. I've been trying to reply to people in the comments more, but there's no way to notify you if I've replied back...so check again on the post if you leave a question or concern for me! :) 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

London Part I.

Hi guys!

I didn't feel like I took that many photos in London, but when I got back to Florence and began looking at them I realized I did! it was pretty slow actually the first four days I was there, and then the last day I did all the touristy things at the traditional land marks and have a ton of photos from them. But for now, I'll just start out with some photos from the first day!

We arrived Tuesday evening so that didn't leave time to do anything but get dinner and rest in the hotel that evening, but Wednesday started out the planned activities and adventuring. We woke up early and had a traditional English breakfast that the hotel provided for us. English do it big for breakfast! Eggs, breads, pastries, tomatoes, baked beans, bacon, tea, coffee, juices....it was so nice! We then took a little boat ride down the Thames river and saw Big Ben from afar and the London Eye.

We were dropped off in front of Shakespeare's Globe where we had a tour of the theater which was so lovely! I've always really enjoyed Shakespeare's plays, so it was a joy to see where he would have had them actually performed. We then had an Elizabethan dressing demonstration which was so interesting since American fashion doesn't go back that far. Couldn't believe how long and intricate the whole process was! 

After the Globe, we were able to go off for lunch and me and some friends stopped at a BBQ place which was a real treat. I got a burger with BBQ sauce and delicious sweet potato fries...I felt like I was home! 

Then, we went to the Tate Modern Museum where I unfortunately wasn't allowed to take any photos :( But I did end up liking it a lot more than I thought I would! I am kind of 'meh' about modern art (so sue me), but our tour guide was amazing at the Tate and offered up so much insight and history behind the pieces, so I was better able to understand and appreciate them.

The evening we were free for shopping and we visited the Brick Lane area which is filled with vintage stores so that was quite convenient, eh? If I didn't have to double my American dollar for one pound, definitely would have bought something! We also ventured around Oxford Circus which was seriously magical with all the bustle, lights, and decorations hanging about. I visited & Other Stories for the first time (loved!) and also stumbled upon Dahlia which suprised me! Funny story, years ago when I started blogging Dahlia was one of my first sponsors and sent me a dream dress I'll never forget wearing (still have it back home actually)...I had no idea they had actual stores, so it was wonderful to find a brick and mortar store and look inside!

For dinner we went to this really off beat Hawaiian burger grill, ha. Since I had already had a burger though, I got pancakes; my favorite food EVER! I have missed them so much since being here in Italy, so I was in heaven. 

Thinking all about my times in London makes me sad already--miss it! x

With much love, Lauren.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Red Lips and Rosey Cheeks.

Checked Dress, Infinity Scarf: H&M.
Sweater: Thrifted.
Black Beret: AA.
Black Loafers: TJ Maxx.
Lipstick in MAC's Russian Red.

 Hello everyone!
Okay, so I need to fan girl for a moment that Taylor Swift's 1989 came out today!! I loved her from the second I heard Tear Drops on my Guitar all those years ago (I used to actually relate it to my now boyfriend back then, ha). From her transformation of soulful country gal, to fiery love pop queen ,and then this album which is just such a new feel and sound for her but it still perfectly fits who she is. I did a listen of all the samples on itunes and am obsessed with them all...I'm super bummed though because although I could buy the album on itunes, I really want the limited edition one they sell at Target that comes with bonus songs and Polaroids for each song. So, I'm going to have my parents buy it for me while I'm over here and impatiently wait! I HAD to buy Wildest Dreams though because after I listened to it I fell in love and couldn't wait another month and a half...

I just think Taylor is an incredible artist and person. She does amazing things for her fans and I feel like she really and truly genuinely cares. I love the marketing techniques she uses to promote her CD, not imposing her songs via my icloud like U2 -__- But by having secret sessions with her fans, inviting them to her house, baking cookies for them, letting them hold her Grammys....like what celebrity does that!?

Her songs have gotten me through so many points of my life and I'm so happy to continue to love her and this new CD she's released (but I honestly don't feel like I would stop loving her). I decided that I AM going to go to her concert for the tour of this CD. I've always wanted to go, but never justified the money but I am too in love with this CD and know it's something I'll never forget if I do go. Will be anxiously awaiting a tour release date so I can go, ha :D

What are your favorite songs on the album? I'd love to hear!

Anyways, //END FAN GIRL// This is an outfit from London! The streets were so cute and just as lovely and quaint as I could have imagined. Couldn't help but snap some outfit photos in front of someone's house basically, ha. But then, the best part was the vintage car I found! Oh London, you're adorable

With much love, Lauren.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

City Centre.

Sweater, Jacket, Flats: H&M.
Pink Bow Skirt: c/o OASAP.
Necklace: Forever21.
Lipstick in MAC's Please Me.

Hello everyone!

I am back from London and had quite a lovely time. It is definitely in the running for favorite place I've visited along with Prague! I have lots of photos to show you all, and outfits from every day so the blog may be quite busy this week (that's not necessarily a bad thing!). To be honest, I miss London a lot already, but looking back on all the photos and writing about it will remind me of the wonderful time I had. x

With much love, Lauren.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Perugia Euro Chocolate Festival.

Hi there
Can I give you all a huge, sobbing hug for a moment seriously? I was so nervous to post yesterdays blog because it's hard to admit you're not having the time of your life in a foreign country. I was afraid you all would think I was ungrateful. But the responses and stories I got were absolutely incredible and I cannot thank you all enough for them. Seriously. You all have rejuvenated me for this trip, knowing I'm not alone and can do this! Thank you :')

Here's one last post of the Eurochocolate festival from this weekend before I head off to London for five days tomorrow! I will miss you all dearly and blogging, but I'll be back with lots of photos and stories to share

 The chocolate festival was in Perugia, about two hours from Florence so not too bad at all. It's the largest chocolate festival in the world, lasting from now until the end of October! They had stands all down the streets of different chocolate brands where you could taste, buy, and obviously drool over everything. Right off the bat I was hungry, and I saw a churro stand where they were drizzling chocolate on top and nothing sounded better! I've never had churros and they were honestly so amazing...Can't wait to eat them in excess when I travel to Barcelona in a few weeks (just booked it today!). 

I went around to the different stands sampling chocolate, and even tried chocolate liquor. I loved the taste at first because it tasted like melted chocolate...then the alcohol hit and I was like, nope, not having it ha. I kept sipping it though and it was a love-hate relationship. Another really interesting thing I tried was at the Ciobar stand. I thought it was hot chocolate being churned around in these vats, but it was actually hot pudding! You can see it in the cup in one of the above photos, and it just surprised me because I've only ever had (and thought) that you ate pudding cold. Was quite nice hot! 

For myself I just bought a few praline/bon bon candies of different flavors because I was all chocolated out, but did get some goodies for my family that I hope keep until I get home. Also, I have to comment that the guy and girl dressed up and painted like they were chocolate was absolutely brilliant. They stood still like statues until someone would drop money in, and then they would dance and kiss! So cute.

Hope you all have a lovely coming week. I'll be on instagram when I can updating with @passingwhimsies if you'd like to tag along to London :) See you all soon! x

With much love, Lauren.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Studying Abroad Isn't What I Thought.

White Cut Out Blouse: Forever21.
Tan Slacks: Zara.
Wide Brimmed Hat: Brandy Melville.
Black Loafers: TJ Maxx.

Studying abroad in Italy isn't what I thought it would be--at all. I know that may seem like an out of the blue statement from me after constant traveling posts, raving about all of the beautiful places I get to visit and see and do... but this experience has been so different than I ever thought. 

The feelings started creeping up on me during the first month of  being here right around the time I went to Paris for five days with my school. I knew about the "roller coaster" of studying abroad that our professors told us about. That we would start off high, being exhilarated to be somewhere new and exciting. Over time it would wear off and we'd be at the bottom of the coaster-- feeling home sick and frustrated with all the cultural differences. And in the end, we would be happy and elated again, not wanting to ever leave and enjoying the last of our 'ride." I knew I would probably experience things on this imaginary roller coaster a bit differently and quicker than others. Having only ever spent a month a most away from my family and being an absolute homebody, it was going to be hard, but I knew I would adjust and fight through it.

The problems weren't really just for the extreme home sickness I started feeling though after the first month or so, but just so many things at once I think. I wanted to do this trip to find things out about, discover, and develop myself as a person in this big scheme of life. The funny thing is, I suppose I thought I could pick the things I would discover out about myself-- that they'd be all good things. Unfortunately, the things I've found out about myself along the way of this trip have been difficult and nothing I was prepared for.

I've always known I like to be alone. I've been a loner since I was little, having only one group of small friends and staying in that circle. If you read my blog when I was in high school, I really only had my boyfriend at the time as my only friend and had some friends, but always kept them at a distance and they were more "school friends." I struggled for awhile in college making friends and keeping them, always feeling inferior and like I wasn't good enough... Being alone for me has never been a problem. It's just what I've always known and what I enjoy.

But here, I guess I didn't really realize how important this is to my personality and just my way of life. In college, I had my mornings and evenings to myself to recharge, write, blog, relax and think and I could socialize in the afternoons with my friends and go out for dinner and hang for a little bit, no problem. But when I got here in Italy, I found myself always being with people, constantly. It's inescapable really-- I live in a city, have three roommates, and am in a small program of about 37 other fashion students. I found myself getting sort of depressed and suffocated being with people 24/7. I couldn't think straight, I felt like I was losing myself, and Paris was the breaking point where I just realized that I need a certain amount of alone time to just...be okay. I need that to feel like myself, to have my thoughts straightened out and  my peace restored. After spending five days non-stop doing things with everyone and pushing, pushing, pushing myself to be this social person when I'm just not, I was exasperated and felt like I had lost who I was. I can't go, go, go like everyone I discovered. The constant traveling and new experiences and adversities were exhausting for me and I couldn't take it all. I couldn't "take advantage of every, single moment" like everyone else was. It was too much to go from morning till night without a break and without peace to just be. I felt like I wasn't seeing things and truly experiencing them, rather rushing through and just trying to shove as much as I could into one time period.

And all this frustrated me because I felt like I was the only one who felt like this. I didn't understand why I couldn't be like everyone else in the program and want to constantly see everything and do everything we could because "it was the experience of a lifetime." It made me feel guilty and strange because I just couldn't do this constant socializing like everyone else...I wanted to sit down in a quiet Parisian cafe and people watch over a coffee rather than running all over the city trying to see it all. I was angry and unaccepting of myself because I just felt like such a weirdo who can't talk and make friends and be in a social group. I'd rather be by myself. And I hate that, but I guess it's something I just can't change.

Things have been up and down since Paris and recently have been a lot more down. I'm not in love with Italy if I'm honest. At first I didn't want to admit that to myself. It made me feel so guilty and awful because everyone says they're so jealous and wish they were me and that this is the experience of a life time and I should take advantage of everything...I kept forcing myself to think that, hey, they were right. This is the best time of my life and I'm being selfish and dumb to think I don't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. But the more I kept trying to tell myself that this was the best few months of my life, the guiltier I felt for still feeling sad and down, and not being like everyone else. My parents sacrificed a lot for me to be here. All of my family has; they've sacrificed their money, time, love, and so much more for me to come to Italy and study abroad. And it just killed me to think that I wasn't having this amazing time like I should be, like I thought I would be. The guilt ate away at me, and I kind of just hid it and didn't even want to write about it on here because I felt selfish. I still feel selfish and ashamed. So many of you say how I'm living your dream...and to come here and write that I'm not happy feels so awful. 

Italy is just not for me. I don't love the city life-- I feel most connected with nature and being in it, and being in the center of a metropolitan life style has been hard. The weather, too has been hard. I never thought I would say this, but I miss Ohio's weather. I am so used to and love cloudy, rainy, colder weather. Here it is always sunny, always hot, and it never rains...not to mention there is no hint of fall here. Fall in the midwest is such a big deal and holds so many special memories and feelings for me. With no changing leaves here, no seasonal flavors, and no change in the weather; things feel so stagnant. Wheras in the US there are many denominations of Christianity, here there is only Catholicism. I've tried going to Catholic mass and it just didn't help at all quench my need for Christ and I found myself still feeling empty. I've really struggled with my relationship with God here because I don't have any other believers to talk with, no church to go to, and the wifi is too bad to watch services at home. To have all my resources stripped away, it has been difficult. These all may seem like small, silly things to be "sad" over, but it's a combination of all of this and just this culture that I cannot connect with and seem to adapt myself to where I just struggle. It's not that I am so nationalistic that I don't want to accept a culture that's not my own; I understand the Italian way of life and I find nothing wrong with the way people live over here. But I just cannot connect with it and it does not work for me personally.

I know you all are probably rolling your eyes reading all this (if you even made it this far) because it may just seem like a big post complaining and whining and crying when I should be more appreciative. But it's more than that. It's a build up of two months of feelings that I felt and the honesty of a situation.... I've only ever heard of good studying abroad experiences. That people have the best four months of their life. And that may be true for a lot of people, but for me, I can honestly say that it hasn't been the best months of my life and I don't think the next two months will be either. And that's okay to admit because everyone is different, everyone has a different experience and it's important to acknowledge all the experiences people have studying abroad. Maybe I went in with too high of expectations. Maybe studying abroad isn't for someone life me. Maybe I'm just an unappreciative brat who can't just enjoy what I have in front of me. I don't know. All I know is, that I want to be honest, and say that sometimes studying abroad isn't want you think it's going to be. 

Although this experience hasn't been the wonderful, life changing trip I had hoped, it has be life changing in a different way. I have learned so much about myself. Things I wanted to learn and learn this difficultly? No, not really. I wish it was easier, but I know that after this whole experience is done I'll 1. breath a sigh of relief  but 2. more importantly, be thankful for it. I don't regret coming here. Even though I am struggling and it isn't what I thought, I have never regretted coming here and I would never dream of leaving. The things I've learned about my personality, about my life, the people in my life, how to deal with situations....have been priceless and something I could have never found at home. Without this experience, I wouldn't have developed so much of myself as a person, and for that I am thankful. So I guess in a way, even though this experience isn't what I thought it was going to be, I have gotten out of it what I wanted-- to find out about who I am. It may not have been in the way I wanted (I thought it would be much more graceful and less painful), but I have and I am happy and satisfied with that.

I will make the best of my remaining two months here. I don't want to fake things, trying to make myself have fun and "the time of my life" when in reality, sometimes I just won't. But I can make the best of this time here and utilize these learning experiences, taking them as a grain of salt as I go along. 

In the end after this experience I think it will all be okay. Actually, I know it will  be okay. Life will go on, I will go back to life in Ohio, school, and home...But I will be changed forever by this experience, and I could never regret it or change the course of events I've had here.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 4:6-7

With much love, Lauren.

Prague Part III.


Hi there!

Here is my last installment of photos from Prague (and I know you all are like, "FINALLY Lauren, you've dragged this out four posts too long...). I feel bad that this has kind of turned into a travel blog, but it's just what I have the most photos of and spend most of my time doing, so I might as well blog it I suppose! Wait, I lied when I said this is the last set of photos...it is the last travel set, but I do have some outfit photos from the first day yet to post! Have to get a move on soon though because I have pictures from the Euro Chocolate festival from this weekend, and then I leave for London for five days on Tuesday...

The second day of exploring Prague was just as lovely as the first. For our guided tour, we went and saw Charles Bridge and then made our way over to the Prague Castle. The bridge was amazing...all of the fall foliage surrounding it was unbelievable, and getting up close to the arch the bridge started on you could see the impeccable details of such a historic structure. The Charles Bridge was much like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence-- full of artisan merchants and musicians keeping things lively. The other side of Prague was super charming and we made our way up, up, up to the largest castle in the world-- The Prague Castle.

This thing was massive. I don't even really have any photos actually of it because that's impossible...this thing, is like block after block long and large, and I could only really take photos of various structures inside the walls rather than the thing in its entirety. We did a little tour inside and the Cathedral was my favorite--it blew even the ones in Milan and Siena out the window. Another thing I found interesting inside our castle tour, was all of the medieval armor and weapons--pretty neat to see! After that, we were free to go on our own and I decided to do some exploring by myself because I quite like to get acquainted with cities on my own terms.

I wandered around looking in shops and such, and also went to a Medieval Torture Museum. Sounds pretty grotesque and unlike me, right? I don't know! I have an odd fascination with things like that, and it wasn't expensive so I went and thought it was pretty interesting. No photos worth showing though, ha, I'm sure I'd get all sorts of strange google image searches with those! 

It started to rain about this time in the evening and it was so delightful...the street lights illuminating the wet cobble stones in a warm glow in the evening and the smell of the fresh rain made me feel like I was home. I stumbled into a random little hole in the wall place for dinner and got goulash again because it had been so good the night before (I'm a one trick wonder), and topped it off with the delicious sweet, sugared bread again. I know what I like! 

Leaving Prague the next morning was definitely sad...it felt like home to me. A place I could see myself living and enjoying even more so than Florence. It was such a lovely trip-- my favorite thus far and I cannot wait to visit again someday! x

With much love, Lauren.