Home Sweet Home: Back To America!

Jet Lagged, Sleepy, and Happy To Be Home!

Last week I got back from my six week long adventure in Belgium and other parts of Europe.  It was the greatest six weeks of my life, but it was so good to be back!  I missed my family and friends more than you can imagine! There were many things that I missed about being home… Starbucks (or just regular coffee in general!), bagels, cheeseburgers, normal ketchup, chocolate chip cookies, and most of all, being able to call and talk to my mom, dad, and sister whenever I want!

New York City - View Of The City And The Brooklyn Bridge However, now that I am home it is time to get to work! This past Saturday, exactly one week after I got back to the US, I moved into my apartment in New York City! It has been a big adjustment, but I am finally getting used to it.  My apartment is in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and I have an amazing, super nice roommate!  I start working at Company Agenda tomorrow morning, and I have the first day jitters already!  I am really nervous about my big day, but I am also more excited than you can possibly imagine!  I cannot wait to start my life and career in fashion! I know I still have one more year left of school, but I am so excited and I cannot believe all of this is happening… it is literally a dream come true!

When I was 8 years old my family took a road trip vacation, and all four of us got to pick anywhere on the East Coast that we wanted to go.  I picked New York City.  Ever since my very first visit to the city as a young 8 year old girl, I have known I wanted to live here one day.  I remember looking up at my dad and saying “Daddy, when I grow up I am going to live here,” and now my lifelong dream is finally coming true!

Stay tuned to find out about my first day!

XOXO Kristen

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Day Trip To Ghent and Brugge, Belgium

Last week we took a day trip to Gent and Brugge, two cities in Belgium.

Gent, Belgium:

Cathedral in Gent, Belgium Our first stop of the day was in Gent, which is about an hour and a half away from Antwerp. When we got there we went on a one hour walking tour of the city where we saw and learned some really cool things! There was a lot of cathedrals and castles, and most of the buildings were in the medieval style.  There was a canal (or river?) that ran through the city, and there was a lot of little restaurants and cafes on the water.  It was really pretty and it almost reminded me of Venice in certain areas!  There was also one alley in the city that was full of graffiti.  It was really cool to see all the different “artwork” and the coolest part to me Graffiti Alley In Gent, Belgium was that it was not only allowed, but actually encouraged by the city!

After our walking tour we had about an hour and a half or two hours of free time to get lunch and explore a little.  Some friends and I walked around a little, seeing some cool things that we missed during the tour and then we went to a little cafe on the water where we had lunch.  I had a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato and a little side salad, it was really yummy! After lunch our free time was just about up, so we went to the meeting place and hopped on the bus to Brugge!

Brugge, Belgium:

House In Brugge, Belgium After our time in Gent we then took another bus ride to Brugge, it took about an hour and a half to two hours to get there from Gent because there was a lot of traffic!But when we finally arrived, we started right on our one hour walking tour of the city.  Brugge was a really cool city, it reminded me a lot of Colonial Williamsburg! There were people on horses and buggies and some people were dressed up in clothes that resembled the clothes people wore in the olden days!

After our walking tour, we had one hour of free time to do whatever we wanted.  My friends and I got some ice cream My Friends and I In Brugge, Belgium and walked around, doing some shopping along the way.  I did not personally buy anything, but some of my friends got some really cool things and we all had a lot of fun!

After our free time, it was time to head back to the Monty.  We all had a lot of fun during the day but I think we were all ready to head back. It was a really long day and everyone was really sleepy! When we got back we all had dinner and rested up for the big day that lay ahead… Croatia!!

XOXO Kristen

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dobrodošli u Splitu

Free Weekend #2:  Split, Croatia

All Of Us At The Overlook Of The City - Split, Croatia Last weekend, five of my friends and I went to Croatia for the second free weekend out of the three that we get.  Personally, I had never heard of Croatia before coming on this trip, but going on this trip was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  It was absolutely gorgeous, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! We were in Split, which is the second largest city in all of Croatia, where we stayed at the Tchaikovsky Hostel Split.   I had never stayed in a hostel before and I was actually really nervous about the whole experience (after hearing all the crazy stories from some of my friends on the trip who went to Amsterdam about strange men watching them sleep…), but it was a great experience!  The hostel was so nice and clean, and the staff was extremely friendly and helpful with anything and everything we asked them about.   Strawberries And Other Fruit At The Market - Split, Croatia

Split is on the coast, so naturally we went to the beach everyday we were there.  It was really nice to have a little bit of downtime since we have not really stopped going since we got to Belgium 4 and a half weeks ago!  We also did a little shopping at the local market where there were a lot of little “shops” (really just stands or little tents) .  The market had anything and everything you could ever imagine! From fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, meat, and pastries to clothes, scarves, shoes, and handbags to name just a few, they really did have it all!  I don’t think I realized how grateful I was to have good fruit and vegetables that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! In Belgium (well at least where we grocery shop in Antwerp…) the fresh fruits and veggies (fruit especially) are either not very good, or they are super expensive.  I think one of the things I am most excited about having when I get home is fresh food!

Two nights that we were there, we went to a restaurant called Fife.  It was a small restaurant on the water and it was really yummy and also pretty cheap.  The portions were huge and the food was delicious, so after the first time we went, we decided to go back a second time a few nights later! I had calamari and grilled vegetables and it was so good!

"Water Park" In Supetar, Croatia The last full day we were in Croatia, we decided to switch it up a little and we took a ferry to an island off the coast of Split, Supetar.  It was a small island that we were told is a popular tourist attraction.  It was so nice! It was little and cute, but there was also a lot to do. When we went to the beach, we saw a portion of the water that was roped off and had a bunch of moon bounce type of objects floating around.  When we went over to see what it was, we found out that it is a “water park” type of place with a lot of stuff similar to the things they use and do on the TV show Wipeout.  I don’t know if you have ever seen it, but I always thought it was a little silly, who can’t do that stuff I always though… Well boy was I wrong! It was so hard! There was a trampoline, a bunch of slides, a “blob”, a rock wall type of thing, and a bunch of other stuff, but it was so hard to get on and when you did, it was hard to stay on! My friends and I were the only girls and the only people over the age of about 12 playing on all the stuff, but we had a blast (and boy was it a workout)! While we were waiting for the ferry back to Split, we stopped at a little restaurant/bar to get some gelato.  None of us had any idea what we were getting into, but it was hands down the best gelato I have ever had! It was a huge sundae type thing, but it was really cheap and definitely worth every penny spent!

The next day, it was time to go.  Although we were all so sad to leave paradise, we were all ready to get back to the Monty and finish up the last few things we have to do for our classes before our finals and presentations next week!

View Of Split, Croatia From The Ferry

This was our view leaving Split on the ferry when we were headed to Supetar!

Gelato Sundae In Supetar, Croatia

This is my amazing gelato sundae that I had when we were in Supetar! It was easily the best gelato I have ever had (even better than Italy!).

My Roommate And I On The Last Night In Split, Croatia

This is my roommate, Katie, and I on our last night in Split.  This was right before dinner, where we ended up matching! We didn’t plan it at all, but we both came out of the bathroom and it just so happened we were wearing the same skirt in different colors!

XOXO Kristen

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Antwerp, Belgium: Diamond Capital Of The World

Antwerp Diamond Center Last week we took a class field trip to the diamond district in Antwerp.  Who knew that Antwerp, Belgium was the diamond capital of the world?! I certainly didn’t until I got here! However, 80% of the world’s uncut and unpolished diamonds go through Antwerp, and at least 50% of the worlds finished diamonds go through Antwerp.  So, when you buy a diamond, there is an extremely high chance that it has been in Antwerp at some point!

We went in one of the 4 polishing and cutting facilities, where we met the man who is in charge of all the operations of the facility.  All of the polishers have to report to him and get approval from him before they can be done with their diamond.  This company cuts and polishes all of the diamonds that are sold by Tiffany & Co!! I thought that was one of the coolest things ever!

Then we went to the open room where a lot of the diamond trading and buying/selling takes place.  The diamond industry is dominated by the Jewish community in Antwerp, and when you enter the room, it was Diamond Cutting and Polishing full of their heritage and culture! It was actually really interesting and neat to be able to see. We were not able to take any pictures inside the trading room because it is top secret and extremely private.  (Apparently, it was a huge deal for them to let us go in there!)

I learned a lot about diamonds and had no idea how much really went into the trading, buying, designing, cutting, and polishing of the diamonds! I also had no idea that 80% of the natural diamonds found in the world are used for industrial purposes, rather than jewelry that makes up only 20%!  Diamond powder is used for a ton of things that you would never guess it could be used for since it is such a hard stone.

All in all, I think this was one of my favorite field trips we have been on as a class! It was really interesting and I think I learned the most and took the more from this one than any of the others!

XOXO Kristen

 

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Passing Through Athens, Greece

αφήνει να πάει στην Αθήνα, Ελλάδα – Let’s Go To Athens, Greece

On our way back to Belgium from Santorini, we had a five hour layover in Athens where we stopped for a two hour bus/walking tour and a quick lunch!

We weren’t in Athens for a very long time, but I still noticed a lot of differences between Santorini and Athens! Athens is a city and is not located on the coast, so it is naturally more fast paced and is not a colorful and scenic.  The buildings were all taller and were also much darker than the white buildings in Santorini.  It was also extremely historic, being the one of the oldest cities in the world, it was expected to have a lot of that! A few of the things we saw were:

Zeus’s Palace.

Zeus's Palace Athens, Greece

The stadium from the first ever Olympic Games.

The Acropolis.

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The Parliament Building.

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The University.

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And then other historic and government buildings.

 

 

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XOXO Kristen

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Καλώς ήλθατε στη Σαντορίνη, Ελλάδα!

Welcome to Santorini, Greece!

Santorini, Greece After spending a day in Lake Garda and Milan, Italy, we headed to the airport and were on our way to Santorini!  Santorini was probably my favorite part of the whole trip.  It was absolutely gorgeous! For those of you who have seen the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, it is where Lena goes in Greece when she visits her grandparents! AMAZING!

The first day we were there we went on a tour for a few hours where we got to see all the major tourist sites and attractions.  They were all really cool and of course all so pretty and I learned a lot about the island and the Greek culture.  After the tour, the bus dropped us off at the Black Beach where we got lunch and spent about 5 hours on the beach! The water was absolutely gorgeous, but it was so cold, and the bottom was all rocks instead of sand, so we had to get out far enough where our feet wouldn’t Me And Katie In Santorini, Greece touch really quickly!

After spending a full day on the beach, the girls and I along with the boys decided that we wanted to spend our free day on a boat, so we did a little digging, and the boys found a private boat for us to rent for the day that was actually really affordable.  That morning, we were all so excited for our boat ride.  We got up, had our breakfast at the hotel and set off for the boat!  It was so much fun for about the first 45 minutes, and then it hit me… the water was really choppy that day and I got extremely sea sick! So, for the next 4 hours I spent my time curled in a ball feeling extremely nauseous.  However, I did manage to swim in the hot springs of the volcano and I also went Snorkeling with everyone! Unfortunately, I missed the cliff jumping and a lot of the swimming along with the amazing lunch our captain made for us!

The next day was the day we were all dreading, the day we had to leave and head back to Belgium and back to the Monty.  On our way back, we had a 5 hour layover in Athens, where we took a break and went for a little bus tour…

XOXO Kristen

Santorini, Greece

Boating In Santorini, Greece

Costa Marina Villas In Santorini, Greece

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Day Trip to Lake Garda and Milan, Italy


lake garda Casually Road Tripping To Milan… Making a Pit Stop In Lake Garda, Italy

After leaving Venice, we hopped on a bus and started off on our way to Milan!  About half way in to our three hour ride, we stopped for lunch and a tour of a vineyard in Lake Garda, Italy.  Lake Garda was gorgeous!! It is the largest lake in Italy and the scenery and views all around the lake were amazing!

The tour of the vineyard was extremely interesting and I actually felt like I learned a lot! They taught us all about how the wine is made, and we got to see where they store the wine and how the barrels are positioned and moved during the fermentation process.  After the tour we got to the best part, the tasting! We tasted two different wines, both white.  One was a pinot and the other was a chardonnay.  They were both sparkling wines, which is basically the same thing as champagne (but it is not called champagne because it is made in Italy and not Champagne…)!  After we tasted the wine, we had a chance to go to the little shop and buy a bottle winery if we wanted.  I did not buy one, but a bunch of my friends did so I got to try theirs and I actually liked most of them! I am not a huge wine drinker (I usually stick to Moscato…) but surprisingly, I really enjoyed almost every one that I tried!

After the winery, we got back on the bus for our trip to Milan, and after another hour and a half of driving we finally made it! When we first arrived, we had a short walking tour of a few places.  We saw the palace, which was kind of cool but it was extremely crowded and we were only there for a few minutes.  After that we walked to the cathedral and it was amazing! It was really pretty and cool looking from the outside, but even more amazing on the inside! We were not allowed to take pictures inside unless you paid, so I did not take any, but it was gorgeous!

That night we went to dinner as a group and then we went out! Two of the boys on the trip turned 21 that IMG_3263 day so we celebrated their birthdays! How cool would it be to turn 21 in Milan, Italy!? The next morning, we woke up early and headed right off to the airport and headed to Santorini, Greece!

XOXO Kristen

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Benvenuti a Venezia, Italia

The first stop on our week long excursion was Venice, Italy.  It was absolutely gorgeous… one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen!!

Small Canal In Venice, Italy When we arrived at the hotel, which was actually in Lido (a small island off of Venice) we had a little time to change and get ready for dinner, and then we were off to Panchuka, a small restaurant on the beach for our first group meal in Italy!  It was so delicious!! We all had bread and a ton of appetizers (fried mozzarella, stuffed olives, fried vegetables, etc.), and then for my main course I had spaghetti with tomato sauce.  It was absolutely amazing!! Then, we all got dessert which was tiramisu, one of my favorite desserts ever!! After dinner, we stayed at the restaurant for a few hours and hung out at the bar, it was a lot of fun and everyone got to know each other a little better which was really nice.

gondola Our first full day in Venice, we went on a 5 hour walking tour (yup… 5 hours!), it was really really long, but we got to see a lot and I actually really did learn a lot too! After that we had free time in Venice and some friends and I went on a gondola ride! It was so awesome, I still can’t believe that I actually rode a gondola in Venice!

The next day was a free day to do whatever we wanted, so my friends and I decided to go back to the main island and go shopping.  We got some really cool stuff and I even tried Italian gelato, it was so yummy! Then we went back to Lido after hours of shopping and went to the beach for a little while.

Building In A Small Street In Venice The next day we left Venice, so when we woke up we had to be ready to go and we got on a bus and started off on our 3 hour drive to Milan!  Venice was absolutely amazing, one of the best places I’ve ever seen.  It is definitely somewhere I would go back one day and I think anyone who gets the chance to go definitely should!

XOXO Kristen

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Italy And Greece Anyone?

Gondola In Venice, Italy This weekend the whole group is going to Venice, Italy, Milan, Italy, and Santorini, Greece for 8 days! Since we arrived in Antwerp almost 2 weeks ago it has been rainy and really cold everyday, so to say I am excited about warm weather, sunny skies, and sandy beaches is an understatement!

I cannot wait to ride a gondola in Venice, visit a vineyard in Milan, and lay on the beach in Santorini! I am also extremely excited about finally getting a little bit of a tan. A few friends and I are going to Croatia for our next free weekend, so it will be nice to get a little color on my pale skin before that!

I am also so excited about this trip because of my Italian roots.  My mom’s side of the family Santorini, Greece has a lot of Italian in it, so I think it will be really cool to go to the place where so much of my family is from.  Italy has always been my ideal vacation, and a place I only dreamed that I would actually go, but I am so excited that it is actually becoming a reality so soon!

Stay tuned for more details about what will probably be the best week of my life!

XOXO, Kristen

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Bienvenue à Paris: Free Weekend #1

Eiffel Tower - Paris, France On our first free weekend, three of my good friends and I went to Paris! At the top of my list of places that I wanted to go, Paris did not fall short of any expectations I had – we had an amazing time!  While the people were not really the nicest (they did not like us at all!), my friends and I did not let that stand in the way of our fun, and we still had the time of our lives! Here are some of the highlights of our weekend…

Day 1:

The first full day that we were in Paris, we went went to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.  Both of these were things that I really really wanted to do while I was there, and both of them were amazing! We did not have the greatest weather while we were there (or really we have’t had the greatest weather at all while in Europe…), but when we were at the Eiffel Tower the weather was gorgeous, and the clouds started to move in while we were at the Arc, but it was still great weather for pictures!

Notre Dame in Paris, France- Hunchback of Notre Dame  Day 2:

The second day we were in Paris we went to the Louvre (where the Mona Lisa is…) and Notre Dame.  While we were going to these places we got a little side-tracked and did some shopping and also got a crepe! It was so good!We also saw the famous lock bridge on Sunday – so romantic! That day we definitely got hit with the bad weather.. it wasn’t raining when we woke up and got our day started, but then while we were out and about, it
started to pour!

The Famous Lock Bridge - Paris, France Day 3:

On the third, and last, day of our amazing weekend in Paris, we went to a huge indoor mall and just did some shopping because #1 it is the fashion capital of the world and #2 it was pouring
down rain all day long!  The mall that we went to was absolutely amazing!  They had everything you can possibly imagine… from Zara, H&M, MAC, and Michael Kors to little French boutiques that you would not find anywhere else, it was like my own little paradise.

Unfortunately, on top of all of our fantastic shopping, we also had to leave on Monday – but, as seems to be the theme of this trip so far, Louvre - Paris, France we couldn’t do that without having obstacles to overcome!  After a bunch of drama and stress over our train ticket to Brussels and the transfer from Brussels to Antwerp, we finally got a new ticket and were able to make it back to Antwerp in time to go out with everyone else in the program!

 

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