6 Essential Tips for Preparing to Study Abroad

The importance of spending time as a student abroad is often highlighted by counselors and professors. This is in hopes that we will take advantage of the opportunity to escape our comfort zone and step into unfamiliar territory. I am currently spending the school year abroad, and as a result of running essential errands last minute, checking extra luggage, and worrying about whether Amazon orders would arrive on time, I wanted to make this guide for other students on how to prepare for study abroad.

PHOTO: Natalie Miller

1—Start planning early

While your departure may seem decades away at first, time flies. It’s important to make sure you have everything you need instead of stressing at the last minute. It’s super helpful to start jotting down a list that you can add to anytime something you’re missing or may need to pack pops into your head. It is nearly impossible to keep all of these in your head.

2—Unlock your phone

This is a vital step for moving abroad if you wish to be able to use your phone outside of Wi-Fi range while abroad. After this, you can start a small plan with a local provider and use your data free of international fee fears!

PHOTO: Lex Kelly

3—Pack in layers

It can be very tempting to bring along your favorite (yet also heaviest) heels and sweaters and dresses. But consider it rationally. You will come back with more than you left with. Take this from someone who had to check an overweight carry-on bag.

4—Make sure your luggage complies with your airline’s luggage restrictions

You do not want to get stuck at the end of the check-in line while running late for your flight to find out you have to take a few pairs of shoes out of your suitcase.

5—Stay open-minded and curious

If there is a foreign language spoken, don’t be afraid to butcher words and ask questions. Locals will only appreciate your efforts. Also, be aware of cultural differences and customs. It is always useful to do some research prior to your arrival.

PHOTO: Lex Kelly

6—Be prepared to experience a culture shock

We all react to change differently, and this may never occur, or occur one month later. Don’t be afraid to step back and take things at your own pace. We’re all human!

Where are you studying abroad this semester? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to share your travels with @CFashionista on social media.

Here’s What Happened When I Turned My Traveling Dreams Into Reality

Most of us have a list of dream travel destinations that we like to fantasize about. Back in high school, I used to scroll through my Tumblr feed and blog photos of cityscapes I longed to visit one day. England was the top country in my long list of dream travel destinations. For many years, a dream is all it was until last winter break when I decided to enroll in my university’s summer study abroad program in Southern England. Here’s how my life changed when I started traveling and turned my dreams into plans.

The moment in my counselor’s office when I decided I would apply to the study abroad program felt so liberating and empowering. Deciding to make that dream a reality gave me a boost of confidence and a sense of control over my life. I spent the following winter months planning and applying for scholarships to fund my trip. Spring semester flew by, and I was soon boarding a plane to London with my Barbie pink suitcase. It was my first time flying on my own. I had been 21 for a couple of months, yet that was one of the first times I truly felt like an adult.

PHOTO: Lex Kelly

My trip only lasted 16 days, but it changed me. When I came back from England, I claimed the independence I had felt while abroad. I finally got my driver’s license—another great feat for me. Transforming my perspective about traveling also transformed the way I viewed my other dreams. I am about to begin my senior year of college, and I have an amazing internship writing for college fashionista. I also just came back from a road trip to Boston with my boyfriend, and I’m currently planning an upcoming trip to Colombia and a trip to Europe.

Whether your dreams are to travel, advance your career, and/or reach your personal goals, all you need to fulfill your dreams is to change your mindset about them. Actively work to pursue those dreams by researching, organizing, creating spreadsheets, making mood boards for inspiration, journaling—whatever works best for you to plan those goals. You’ll be surprised by the possibilities that open up when you change your perspective.

How do you plan on making your dreams a reality this fall semester? Comment down below or tag us @Cfashionista on our social media platforms! 

What London Street Style Taught Me About Confidence

When it comes to street style, London had no rules. Living in the magical city last semester, I was refreshed by the creativity and wackiness of the outfits I witnessed. Brunch became a battleground for sparkly tights under ripped jeans. After class coffee came with a side of glamorous earrings paired with band T-shirts. People looked careless yet chic, daring, and intelligent. London street style had a major weapon, which I lacked at the time: confidence.

PHOTO: Lex Kelly

This liberation in dressing wasn’t always the case. Not too long ago in London, people dressed as their social class told them to dress. Society deemed whether you wore sneakers or heels, cardigans, or leather jackets. That was until London decided to give birth to punk, bestowing some fashion chaos and splendor that discouraged following the rules and instead encouraged dressing for no one else but you.

I quickly realized that my black-on-black ensembles made me feel uncreative, and not really, well, me. As I spent more time out and about, witnessing new ideas in every outfit I encountered, I slowly began to ditch my trusted black T-shirts (I have four of the same kind) and began playing more with layers, cut, and fabrics. I wore turtlenecks under dresses, bought cheetah platform shoes, and went out in sweatpants for the first time, adorning layers of jewelry and loving it.

PHOTO: Kelly Rogowski

It wasn’t until London did I realize the impact fashion can have on our confidence. And as a student, confidence is key. If clothes are our armor, then style is our secret weapon. It reveals a little bit of who we are, where we come from, and where we might be going. Wearing a glittery top with a tweed jacket and loafers might make some feel uncomfortable, but it makes me feel like I’m dressing for the best version of myself—the self that I am proud of and, ultimately, love.

PHOTO: Cassidy Clark

Perhaps it is due to the melting pot of culture London has to offer, but the British capital’s ability to mix, match, and beyond gives its street style some serious flare. It’s as if the fashion of the people represent the multicultural dynamic that exists in the city.

If you want to dress like a Londoner, my advice would be the following: dress how you want your best self to feel and nothing less. Politely disregard other people’s opinion and any rules you’ve been told to follow. Stick your nose up at those who criticize and keep on keeping on. Whether it’s tweed trousers with a faux-fur jacket or a velvet blazer and jeans, wear what you wear with the same pride that Londoners have for their city. Wear what you wear with the pride you should have for yourself.

How does your best self dress? Show us on social media! Don’t forget to tag @Cfashionista.

Featured photo by Kelly Rogowski.

3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Traveling Abroad

We’ve all studied foreign languages in high school and perhaps at college. Undeniably so, these courses inspire us to dream of being world travelers. But, learning about a culture in a textbook is different than experiencing it for oneself – more so than many students anticipate. Whether you plan on traveling abroad for a month, semester, or full year, preparing for your journey with these three tips will help maximize your time and ease the transition. You’ll be feeling like a local by the time you arrive.on  Bon voyage!

1—Create a Bucket List: Even the longest of travel abroad trips will fly by as you immerse yourself in the land. To ensure you see each tourist attraction and uncover hidden gems, plan ahead instead of trusting you will visit the sites simply because they are staples of the region. You need to designate time to see hearts of the area or you’ll pass through them without pausing to enjoy the view, especially if you’re visiting for a month at most. Bring a planner to write down restaurants, museums, events, and attractions in the margins. Then, coordinate your plans with friends—you’ll probably have similar interests.

2—Do Your Research: Being knowledgeable and up-to-date will save you hassle while running around trying to cross everything off your must-see list. Use a tour book (that can easily fit in a travel bag) or dig online to prepare for most unexpected hurdles, such as a restaurant’s peculiar work hours or renovations at a public attraction. This “homework” will also help your wallet… the limited, ever-loved college budget. Most often, booking flights to other cities or reserving tour spots even a few weeks in advance can spare you funds which can then be applied toward another activity. It’s always better to have a plan of action for traveling than going in blindly.

3—Learn the Language…and Dress Code: It’s important to learn basic phrases of the host language out of courtesy and for safety. Residents will appreciate your effort to respect their culture, even if you butcher a few words, and you’ll learn more about the country along the way. Try downloading free apps or purchasing a language book for an easy start. If you have already taken classes on the language, you’re ahead of the game. But, I challenge you to brush up on your skills and study the dialects. You should also consider acceptable attire… this may be devastating or exciting for us Fashionistas depending on where you’re traveling. The goal is to blend in with the culture, rather than attract attention, so learning more about how to dress (and how to pack) is a smart move.

What are you excited for in your travels? Let me know in the comments below.

How to Save Up for Your Dream Trip

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always had an interest in traveling. Fast forward a few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Florida, Chicago, Amsterdam, London, and Paris. With college breaking your bank, it can be hard to even consider traveling anywhere. However, your dream trips should be more than just a dream… you should make them a reality. Once you adjust your spending habits a bit, you’d be surprised to see how easy it actually is to save up your money.

1—Create a realistic budget and stick with it. A part of growing up is learning to prioritize and cut certain things out of your life. If you’re a foodie, there’s no need to completely stop eating out. It is, however, a good idea to reduce how many times you order takeout to save extra cash almost instantly. Grab your planner and start calculating how much airfare, lodging, and meals would cost and plan your budget accordingly.

2—Make money from home. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Whether if you’re living on or off campus, cleaning out your closet is a must before any semester. As the seasons change, it’s likely that your style has changed, too. Instead of just throwing away that jean jacket you haven’t worn in over a year, why not sell it online? Apps like Depop and Mercari are perfect for getting rid of all your things from technology to clothes and accessories.

3—Shop smart. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to give up everything you love doing just to be able to travel. If you’ve been eyeing a pair of shoes that are a little more than you’d like to spend on them, wait until they go on sale or try to see if the store offers student discounts. Fashion repeats itself, so why not check out your local thrift store? You’re bound to find a bunch of trendy and unique items there for a fraction of the price. Now that’s what I call balling on a budget.

How do you plan on saving up for your next trip? Let us know in the comments below!

The Top 5 Travel Tips You Should Know

I love traveling because it can be extremely beneficial. It can make you see things in a new way, teach you in a way that a classroom cannot, help you learn who you are, and give you some pretty neat stories to tell later. As of right now, I have been to eight countries and way too many states to list, but I am nowhere near done with my journey. Here are five things I’ve learned for making the most out of every trip.

1—Pay attention in foreign language class. Being able to communicate with someone who does not speak English is not only cool but being able to read key words on buildings or signs can help you get around so that you don’t confuse a library with a movie theatre. Another benefit of being (somewhat) bilingual is talking to the locals. Spanish has helped me meet some truly amazing people in Europe, Honduras, and the Caribbean. Knowing just two languages can go a long way.

2—Try new things. I am always down for an adventure, whether it is ziplining, swimming with turtles, or exploring a city. This year, in the Caribbean, I tried quenepas. They are a little, round, green fruit. A local lady was selling them roadside, and I gave them a shot. I am glad I did, because they are sweet, tart, and delicious! Trying new things is important because if you don’t, you will miss out on great things that are just outside of your comfort zone.

3—Take time to learn about the culture. Something I love to do is find things that are different from my Pennsylvania hometown. One of the things I have found to be very different in every country I visit is shopping. Saint Martin, where I spent two weeks this summer, has a capital called Phillipsburg. There, many street vendors sell handmade jewelry, hats, trinkets, clothes, art, shoes, and pretty much anything else imaginable. It is a lot different from my local shopping mall.

4—Make new friends, but bring the old ones along. Traveling with a friend can be an experience that helps the two of you become closer. The girl in the picture above has been one of my good friends since first grade, but the two-week trip we took this summer took our friendship to a whole new level. Traveling together, however, didn’t stop us from meeting tons of new people and making some great friends.

5—Relax. Taking some time to relax, unwind, and spend time by yourself or with your travel partner can be the best part of your vacation. Your trip is supposed to be a break away from your regular life, so designate a day or two of your vacation to simply relaxing. Get a massage on the beach, lay out by the pool, or sleep in past noon. It’s your vacation; you make the rules!

What are your favorite travel tips? Let me know in the comments!

A Seattle, Washington Travel Guide

I don’t know about you but this summer heat has made it so that all I could think of was taking a vacation. I mean who wants to work when literally every piece of business casual clothing makes us sweat our buns off? That’s why my recent trip to Seattle was the perfect relief: the weather was cooler (in fact, we saw snow), the city is beautiful, and it’s definitely a place I highly recommend. Here’s a quick travel guide I’ve put together of my favorite places in Washington’s largest city.

1—Pike Place Market.

If you want to get a taste of Seattle’s vibrant population, this is the perfect place to go. This nine-acre neighborhood is comprised of farmers, craftspeople, and small businesses all looking to sell their wares and preserve its historic character. While here, we ate at Market Grill but, while the food is delicious, I don’t think it’s quite worth the 45-minute wait. Instead, buy some of the fresh produce and seafood from the vendors, take it home and make your own delicious dish.

2—Museum of Pop Culture.

If you have the chance to go to City Center, which I highly recommend, this is the place you should go. Not the Space Needle (sorry Seattle) but this museum. I’ve been to my fair share of museums in my lifetime, and this is by far the best. Click the link to see their current exhibits.

3—Chihuly Glass and Garden.

As a fan of Dale Chihuly’s glasswork, I was excited to see the galleries and garden that provided the perfect backdrop for his art. The long-term exhibition includes the garden where the trees, lush plants and flowers perfectly complement the glass installations, eight galleries and a Drawing Wall, and a Glasshouse that pays homage to Chihuly’s love for conservatories. Make sure to wear a cute top and pants because this is the perfect site for some Instagram photos!

4—Mt. Rainier.

If you’re down for a long but gorgeously rural drive, this is the perfect place for you. It took us about two and a half hours to drive there, but the view was definitely worth it. The snow-capped mountains are absolutely beautiful. Yes, you read that right. We had a literal snowball fight in the 75-degree weather and it was awesome! Just make sure you wear some sneakers that have traction on the bottom so you’re not slipping all over the hiking trails (me). And even though there’s snow on the ground, a tank top and leggings will be your best bet this time of year.

Is Seattle, Washington, on your bucket list? If not, what is? Let me know in the comments below!

A Food Lovers Guide to Chicago

Summer is about going to new places and exploring everything they have to offer. I am a huge foodie, so it is essential for me to find the best places to eat wherever I go. Over the summer, I went to Chicago for a couple of days for vacation. I want to share with you all my favorite food places in Chicago.


For breakfast/brunch, I found this really Instagram-able place called The Goddess and the Baker. When you enter, you instantly notice the colorful displays of cupcakes and desserts which leave you in such a happy and warm mood. This place has such a cute atmosphere and makes you want to indulge in everything! There are so many great vegan options to choose from as well.

There is also a wide variety of drinks from coffee in mason jars to a juice bar. I got the goddess gringo horchata. If you are a coffee lover, you’ll enjoy this drink because of its unique rice and cinnamon flavors that escalate the drink so much. This cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well! I got the iron man omelet which consisted of arugula, avocado, and brussels sprouts in egg whites. After eating my healthy breakfast, I decided to treat myself to a rainbow slice of cake. It was truly magical and tasted delicious!


Everything about this place was so aesthetically pleasing from the glass wall full of wine bottles to the private tables that featured a more deluxe dining experience. The atmosphere was just as excellent as the food! I ordered the chicken dip sandwich which is in my top 10 for best chicken sandwiches I’ve ever had. There was a dipping sauce that came with it that elevated the sandwich to a new level of tastiness!

Remington’s is the perfect place if you are looking for a fancy but affordable restaurant. I cannot describe to you how amazing the atmosphere felt. It was sophisticated, but relaxing at the same time. I just felt a bit under-dressed because everyone was wearing their formal business clothes.


There is this cozy gelato place called Ge Pa Da Caffe. I normally don’t like gelato, but I decided to check this place out because of the great reviews on Yelp. They had so many different unique flavors of gelato such as their Ferrero Rocher and tiramisu gelato. I got pistachio and biscotti which was creamy and melted in your mouth. The presentation exceeded my expectations because I wasn’t expecting anything fancy. Along with great presentation and taste, the workers were so sweet as well! They personally came up to me and told me all of the ingredients in the gelato and how each flavor was made! 

If you have any restaurants you would like to share, please leave them in the comments or share them on social media. Don’t forget to tag @Cfashionista. I would love to hear about your favorite restaurants from any part of the world!

Vlogging Gear 101—What to Know Before You Get Started

You probably clicked on the title of this post because you’ve been thinking about starting your very own vlog channel. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let me show you how to choose the right gear before jumping in front of just any lens so that you can take the vlogosphere by storm!

The very first thing you are going to want to purchase is a camera suited to your vlogging aspirations. Keep the following three questions in mind when browsing for one:

Do you need a flip display?

Flip displays are great if looking good at all times and from any angle is crucial to you. A word of warning about flip displays: make sure not to focus on your face too much. Looking into the lens will come across as more confident and natural.

What lifestyle are you conveying? 

If you want to feature adventurous content, then an action cam is the thing for you! Action cams have wide-angle lenses for you to capture more excitement in one frame. If you plan on doing sit-down videos like makeup tutorials, however, an affordable compact camera will suffice.

Is the audio important? 

If the audio is an essential part of your vlog, get a camera that allows you to attach an external microphone. If your ideal camera has no microphone jack, simply record the audio on a separate device and sync it to your video on the computer.

Found your ideal camera? Great! Now it’s time to consider camera settings. Your settings will depend on personal preference. If you love movie-like motions and want to work with slow motion, go for 60 FPS. FPS stands for frames per second, or the individual shots being taken within one second of filming. If you want to keep it more relaxed, stick with 30 FPS.

Shaky camera action probably won’t be the best look for your vlog, so I highly recommend investing in a decent selfie-stick or, better yet, a bendy tripod. It’s important to have portable gear to be able to film wherever and whenever you want. Having that extra stability for your camera will really make a difference!

Lastly, never underestimate the power of lighting. Good lighting makes such a difference when it comes to the quality of your footage. A movie shot on a smartphone in natural light will look better than a clip filmed on a fancy DSLR in artificial lighting.

Do you have aspirations to be a viral vlogger? Let me know in the comments down below!

Finding My Roots and the Aftermath

I’m a first-generation Latina. However, I would consider myself Americanized. I speak English, and my Spanish isn’t the best. Growing up in Southern California, I experienced snippets of Hispanic, Asian, European and Middle Eastern cultures through friends and through travel. Even though I grew up with so much culture, I never truly experienced my own roots.

That changed this summer. For the first time, I was going to travel to Mexico for a family trip. However, it was more than just a family trip. I was going to see where half of my genes came from, I was going to meet some family members for the first time, and I was going to a place where English was not the primary language. People here valued different things.

Aguascalientes, Mexico, or Aguas for short, is sort of similar to Los Angeles in that it is a center for business, tourism, and night life. Deeper into Aguas is Pabellon—a smaller city that lacks the urban feel of the center of the state. Despite this, it was everything you would want as a first impression of your roots.

If I could describe this place in one word, it’s humble. It is small but lively. The architecture here is old but simple. The people here are generous, despite not having tons to give. The food is high quality, and super inexpensive (in American currency).

This place was nothing like anything I imagined. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. I looked like the people from here, but at the same time, I didn’t. My clothes were different, my style of interaction was different, but even with my differences, everyone was accepting and no one intentionally made me feel out of place. I spoke broken Spanish, but the residents of this city made every effort to understand me.

One thing I learned from this trip is that family is extremely important. The unity between my newly introduced family was unreal, and frankly very respectable. The bond between this family is unbreakable, and I felt like I was inducted into this life-long bond during my week-long stay.

Another lesson I learned was the value of our surroundings. Getting to know my familial roots was incredible, and getting to know my geological roots was a sight to see. The buildings here were so vibrant and simple, but breathtaking all the more. The land was green and healthy. Mother Earth surely takes pride in this area.

Pabellón: "Proud of this land, its people, and its history."

The photo above says,”Proud of this land, its people, and its history”. There are many wonders of the world, but one of the most valuable and heartwarming experiences is getting to know your roots. Take the opportunity if it comes your way. You won’t regret it.

Have you ever visited family out of the country? Let me know where in the comments below!