4 Healthy Habits of Successful University Students

27/01/2017

“Some days you eat salads and go to the gym, some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants. It is called balance.“



Just as every other person I set myself some new years resolutions mainly focussing on my health, well-being and career. For me personally, it doesn’t make any sense to change my habits drastically from one day to another as I just can’t stick to them, which is why I am slowly starting to integrate a few simple, easy and healthy habits. I know that they aren’t revolutionary or unique in any way, however I still think that those are really beneficial on helping me to be happier and healthier on a daily basis.

 Budget your money
 I recently decided to sit down and create an overview over my monthly budget, necessary spendings (rent, gym, phone, laundry) and what I need/want to do with the rest (food, leisure, savings) as I felt like I was constantly out of money although I did not even spend much on anything else than food. However, writing everything down I realised how much money I actually have to spend regularly (f.e. for rent - which is beyond overpriced here in Aberdeen) resulting in me not having much left for food or leisure. In order to be able to start saving for travel and being able to afford clothing without feeling guilty I especially felt the need to budget my grocery spendings, because this is where I spend most of my “leftover“ money (monthly budget minus necessary spendings). And this is really what creating an overview over your spendings does - it helps you realise what you need to spend on, what you don’t need to spend on and what you actually do spend on.
  Cachuma-Lake-Santa-Barbara-California
Cheap Student Meal Prep

Do Meal Prepping 
With me so far spending £70 on food weekly (!) I decided to start meal prepping my meals in order to save money when buying groceries. Not only is this time-saving and healthy but also does it save me tons of money as I’m (hopefully) not tempted to buy extra bibs and bobs for my meals. I decided on going grocery shopping (mostly to Lidl and Asda as it’s the most affordable) and doing meal prepping on Wednesdays and Sundays - on Sunday I meal prep for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; on Wednesdays I meal prep for Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and Sunday will be my funday (Mac n Cheese Galore). I have a whole Pinterest board on healthy and yummy recipes where I will most likely find inspiration for my meal prep - so feel free to check it out and follow.
  Notebooks-colourful-journaling-health-fitness-sharpies-rainbow-flowers

Start a gratitude journal 
Having always admired people who journal on a daily basis and with me being a big sucker for cute stationery I chose one of my new years resolutions to be about starting a gratitude journal. I found 2 adorable rainbow-coloured notebooks in the John Lewis sale for £ 3,50 (John Lewis seriously has the cutest stationary - click *here* for similar notebooks) and with my goal in mind I couldn’t resist getting them. Honestly, I didn’t really do much research into journaling beside watching a Youtube video here and there so I just decided to go for it. So now, every morning I write down 5 things I am grateful for like f.e. my parents, my friends, my organised room, my mermaid blanket or my new flowers - genuinely anything that comes to my mind at that very moment. My goal with this is whenever I have a bad day, some sad thoughts or suffer homesickness (which unfortunately happened quite a lot recently) I can flick through my gratitude journal and realise how happy I should be considering the many things I can be grateful for. 

  Santa-Cruz-Coast-Summer-California

Keep track of your fitness progress 
Almost everyone sets themselves a health related goal for the new year, which I did as well by getting a gym membership and deciding to eat in more conscious and healthy way. What really helps me here is writing down everything from what I eat to what exercises I do and when I meal prep in my other rainbow coloured journal from John Lewis. For a little bit of creativity I use this notebook as a bullet journal, which basically means that I design the layout, charts or whatever I want in it myself - it’s quite fun if you like drawing and doodling. To keep track of my foods in terms of calories and nutrients I use the free app “myfitnesspal“ which is super convenient as it has a bar code scanner and you can adjust the size of servings easily. When you first get the app you simply type in your current weight and height, your goal weight and how much you exercise/move on a daily basis - and the app calculates your daily calorie requirement. With the app being on your phone you will most likely have it with you wherever you are so even if you are out and about you can conveniently keep track of your food. 

I also wrote a post about having an efficient study routine in university!

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5 Things You Should Know Before Dating A Dancer

21/01/2017

“Dance is a sport no matter how much glitter is involved.“

Ballerina-dancers-best-friends-ballet

Since “5 Reasons why you should start dancing in 2017“ turned out to be the most popular post on this blog *yay* I thought I should create another post dedicated to dance as there is really so much worth talking and knowing about. So I guess it would be quite cool to continue with that whole “5“ theme, therefore here is my “5 Things you should know before dating a dancer“.
  Ballerina-Vicente-Patiz-Ballett-Karo-Dancers

We say “I can’t, I have dance“ a lot 
 If you ever had a dancer as a friend, you might had to hear this a lot as this is probably a dancer’s most used saying. But trust me, dance is such a time-consuming hobby/job with dance trainings several times a week and dance shows on the weekend, so don’t expect us to be available 24/7. Admittedly, I sometimes sneakily use this as an excuse to simply stay at home and watch series in my bed series rather than going out (who else is guilty of that?) - sorry guys. 

We have tons of hair and beauty products 
Glitter, bobby pins, fake lashes, hair extensions, tons of hairspray, red lipstick, hair ties - you will find them everywhere. Also as we drench ourselves in glitter when doing a show, be prepared that everything will sparkle and we will just spread glitter everywhere. So the saying “Leave a little sparkle wherever you go“ is more than true in this case. 

Dancers-sailor-marine-dance-karo-dancers-best-friends

We dance everywhere 
 If a song comes on that we have a routine to, we will immediately start marking our choreography no matter where we are - in the supermarket, in the club or in the car. So when you want to date us you definitely can’t be embarrassed, you need to join us on the dance floor and you have to believe in our multitasking skills as we can dance and drive simultaneously (hopefully). 

We love movie nights especially with dance movies 
 After some time with us you will probably remember every line of “Burlesque“ without even realising it. You will no longer watch “How I met your mother“ but “Dance Academy“, “Hit the floor“ and “Dance Mums“ as in our understanding there is nothing better than tutus and glitter.
  dancers-best-friends-karo-dancers-kriebstein

We love to eat 
A lot. Like a lot. We don’t eat like a bird at all - we feast like a bodybuilder. After several hours of dance, which is basically straight cardio, we very much appreciate a yummy dinner with lots of food. And dancers, do we not all know the views we get when going out to eat in stage makeup? 

If you are a dancer, definitely share this post with your friends, crush or boyfriend - they will know those facts just to well. Wanna read another dance related posts? Check out my 5 reasons why you should start dancing in 2017. Kisses, Laura

Winter In The Ore Mountains

18/01/2017

“Kindness is like snow - it beautifies everything it covers.“

Erzgebirge-ore-mountains-germany-winter-snow
Blauenthaler-Wasserfall-Eibenstock-winter-schnee-snow-frozen

Being back in grey Aberdeen makes me miss my beautiful wintery home - the ore mountains in Germany, that have tons of snow lately making me want to be there even more. There is just something about snow in that whatever it covers seems so peaceful and quite. Over Christmas my parents and I went on as many walks through our winter wonderland as possible, trying to capture a piece of the beauty with my camera. And as those photos are just too lovely, I want to share them with you today as a little reminder that you should always appreciate what is around you, because so many things become beautiful when you really look. 

Albernau-Erzgebirge-Winter-ore-mountains
Erzgebirge-Winter-ore-mountains-schnee-snow
Winter-nature-frozen
Snow-winter-girl
Albernau-winter-erzgebirge-schnee-snow
Blauenthaler-Wasserfall-Eibenstock-winter-frozen-schnee-erzgebirge
Winter-erzgebirge-albernau-deutschland
Winter-erzgebirge-albernau-deutschland
Winter-erzgebirge-albernau-deutschland
Winter-erzgebirge-albernau-deutschland
Winter-erzgebirge-albernau-deutschland

Why I Chose to Study Abroad

14/01/2017

“Two roads diverged in a wood, 
and I - I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.“ 
Robert Frost 

Study-abroad-university-college-airport

 For the last several months many people have asked me, why I chose to study abroad in Scotland. And as I think that this might be something some of you could be interested in as well, I am writing this post today, in order to share with you what made me set out on this journey. With this post, I aspire to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone. I know from own experience, that this can be terrifying and daunting, but nevertheless one of the best things you can do.
  Aberdeen-Scotland-Beach

For free education 
Why did I choose Scotland for my study abroad adventure? I get asked this question a lot, but is pretty easy to answer: I chose Scotland, because as an EU student, you get your tuition fees paid - so basically, Scotland is the only primarily English speaking country where studying is free. I didn’t know about that until one of my lovely friends decided to study in Scotland and told me about this amazing free education. (Let’s just hope the Brexit doesn’t interfere with this awesome opportunity.)
  Travel-essentials-train-canon

To work on an international level 
I chose a course in a foreign country, because I strive to work on an international level in my career sector of media, marketing, advertising and PR. I hope that a Media degree from a Scottish university can give me better career perspectives and a broader knowledge than a Media degree from Germany. Not because I think German universities are bad - I simply had a hard time finding a high rated media course at German universities as they tend to focus more on traditional and technical courses like f.e. medicine, law or technical engineering and offer incredible courses for those kind of studies. And I also assume that accomplishing my studies in the lingua franca English, which as the most spoken language in the world is self-evident for international work, could raise my chances for great international employment opportunities.
  Edinburgh-victoria-street

For wanderlust 
“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell.“ Belle from Beauty and the Beast 
This quote from one of my favourite Disney movies Beauty and the Beast describes this reason for choosing to study abroad quite well. You have to know, that I come from a tiny little village on the countryside in Germany and although I love my hometown, I have always wanted to go to somewhere vibrant and lively - like a big city or even better, abroad.


College-night-out-party-girls-fun
 

To have tried it 
I’m honestly not sure if everybody can relate to this point, but it’s just regarding the mindset I have basically about everything in my life - if I tried hard, gave my best and did everything possible, it is okay when I fail. Because then it just wasn’t meant to be and I can accept and live with it. But if I failed, because I didn’t try hard enough, I would constantly ask myself what if I had tried harder? Would I have actually reached what I wanted? And that uncertainty and regret would make me extremely unhappy. So this mindset was actually the decisive factor for me to apply for studying abroad as well as my motivation on my way to my unconditional offer.
  Dorm-room-college-university-decor

To feel the fear and do it anyway 
Many people were very sceptical about my decision to study abroad and assured me that I had probably made the wrong decision and that I would be very homesick. And obviously when moving to a foreign country, you have never been before, all by yourself, it is normal to overthink your decision. I also had some moments when I was questioning my plans and when I thought that it might just be okay to ditch them and to study in Germany like all of my friends do. But those moments of uncertainty were then outweighed by the fact that I had worked so hard to get this place and that not many people get this far and are able to do what I was about to do. I have to admit, after coming back to Aberdeen from Christmas holidays at home I felt quite homesick and lonely, because living alone in a foreign country demands a lot. However, it also gives you so much back - strength, endurance, confidence, experience. 

Because life really begins at the end of your comfort zone. 

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How To Plan A Road Trip In California

03/01/2017

“Because the greatest part of a road trip is not arriving at your destination. It's all the wild stuff that happens along the way.“ 

landscape on road trip through death valley California USA

Looking back on my travelling adventures in 2016, I have to admit that our road trip through beautiful California, USA was definitely one of my favourites. I basically planned our whole road trip myself, which is why I feel like I have quite some experience now. Therefore I want to share with you my favourite California road trip ideas and stops as well as our 3 week California itinerary.
 

1. Choose a route 
As you can probably imagine - planning a 3-week road trip demands a lot of time and effort. What really helped me with planning is taking advice and inspiration from people who have already done a similar road trip, may that be talking to my friends, reading travel blogs, scrolling through Pinterest or watching some travel Vlogs on Youtube. The internet is full of awesome insider tips, you simply need to take the time to look for them.

PRO TIP: A great travel guide book I can recommend for my German readers is the DuMont Reise-Handbuch Reisef├╝hrer Kalifornien: mit Extra-Reisekarte - a detailed and truly helpful book with a lot of great tips from sights, accommodations and places to eat to general insights about things like ESTA, renting a car and giving tips in restaurants.
   San-Francisco-harbour

If you need some inspiration on how a 3-week road trip could look like, here is a little self-made map of the one we did. From vibrant cities and breathtaking landscapes to wonderful people and delicious food - our 3-week-long road trip had it all. What we loved is that we had enough time at every destination to really enjoy it, didn’t sit in car all day and could also schedule some relaxed days by the beach.

OUR ROUTE


 
Arrival in San Francisco 

San Francisco - 3 nights 

Yosemite National Park - 4 nights

Las Vegas - 2 nights (day trip to Grand Canyon)

Los Angeles - 4 nights

Santa Barbara - 3 nights 

Monterey - 3 nights

Santa Cruz - 2 nights 

Departure in San Francisco

Book flights and a rental car
  On Lufthansa flight to San Francisco

Flights
We booked our Lufthansa flights from Germany to San Francisco and back over one year ahead of our departure due to the prices being quite reasonable. Therefore I would definitely recommend you to start looking for flights as soon as the dates are out (mostly 1 year in advance) and also to be flexible in your airport choice. In our chase a flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco and vice versa was more expensive than adding a domestic flight from Dresden to Frankfurt and then to San Francisco, odd right? And by starting in Dresden we even saved time as the flight from Dresden to Frankfurt was only 1 hour long whereas a car ride would have been 6 hours! So definitely make sure you check different airports, airlines and times as during the week flights tend to be more affordable. 

SUV rental car on road trip through California USA

Rental car 

I got our rental car through the website https://www.billiger-mietwagen.de, because it was simple, easy and you could cancel up until 24 hours before lease free of charge - so just in chase you find a better offer from another website, you can just cancel this one. We were 3 persons and got a mid-class SUV for about 700€ for 3 weeks. For insurance we went with the one that was inclusive to the offer, which was: comprehensive and anti-theft protection: without self-participation (by reimbursement), liability 1,000,000 USD. We would recommend everyone to choose a SUV over a normal car as the roads in California are not the best all the time. Size wise, the mid-class SUV was fine, although quite tight for the ones sitting in the back (but nothing too crazy). Also the petrol in the USA is cheaper than (at least) in Germany, so overall the car is not the most expensive part of the trip.

Another note: be prepared that the guy on the car rental station wants to sell you upgrades (car classes or insurances) and make sure you say “No, thank you“ because your chosen car size and insurance should be absolutely fine.

Book accommodations
 Whether to book everything in advance or to look for an accommodation there is up to everyone themselves. However, we found it really relaxing not having to run around and look for an affordable and good accommodation as we booked everything except our last week (Santa Barbara, Monterey, Santa Cruz) in advance. And even for our last week we booked our motels 2 or 3 days in advance via our smartphones, so basically you could have done that from home as well. On that note, booking accommodations quite some time in advance can be very beneficial as especially during summer weekends, popular National Parks like the Yosemite National Park (our favourite stop of our road trip) can be quite crowded and good/affordable accommodations can be booked up quickly.
  Lombard-street-san-francisco

For our accommodations we wanted a clean place for a good price so we usually stayed in Motel 6. For Yosemite National Park I just browsed the internet for some lovely B&B’s and for Los Angeles we chose to try out Airbnb which was a quite cool experience, as we stayed in a rather nice house and neighbourhood. 

MY TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE & EASY PLANNING 

Road trip through California USA

Start planning far ahead of time: I started over 1 year earlier, which enabled me a broad choice of accommodations, flights and other offers and an overall stress-free planning process. 



Start your trip with demanding activities: when you want to do a road trip that is several weeks long, one of the best advice I can give you is to do the exhausting and demanding activities like big cities and National Parks in the FIRST weeks of your trip and leave the more chill and relaxing ones like beach days for the end. Why? Because when you are not used to travelling this many places in a row and not to forget: driving such long distances, you will get exhausted after 1 or 2 weeks. We where really happy that we decided to do Yosemite National Park more in the beginning of our trip as we still had energy to do hikes and physically demanding activities - something we couldn’t have done in our last week of our trip when we where a little bit exhausted and rather spend chill days by the beach or wandering through the smaller cities of the west coast like Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. It’s important to schedule relaxed days with probably only 1 or 2 activities because it doesn’t make any sense do rush and be stressed all the time.
  San-francisco-oakland-bridge

Don’t sit in the car all day: Especially because the distances in California (and the USA in general) are quite far, you don’t want to spend all your time in the car rushing from one place to the other. Of course you want to see as much as possible during your trip, however for us it was more important to experience the places deeper than just visiting the standard tourist attractions - and for that, you simply need some time.
  Big-sur-california-roadtrip
Grand-canyon-arizona
Tenaya-Lake-Yosemite

Don’t spend too much time in the cities: This is more of a personal preference but for me, what really made California breathtaking were not cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but mesmerising landscapes such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and Big Sur. Admittedly, San Francisco and Monterey where absolutely wonderful but somehow cities for me are just not as multi-faceted, varied and diverse such as natural sights. Therefore I would suggest planning on more time for National Parks rather than cities: we f.e. spent 4 nights in Yosemite National Park, which we absolutely needed and only 2 nights in Las Vegas with a Grand Canyon day trip in between, which were just enough as well.
  Injury on California road trip

Remember little things: Beside flights, a rental car and accommodations, don’t forget to get an ESTA-visa as you need this to be allowed to enter the United States. Also (if you are a little nervous and it’s your first time travelling to the USA) make sure your read about the questions they ask you at your arrival and what you generally have to expect. Furthermore, a credit card is absolutely vital for travelling through the USA as you basically pay everything with it. Make sure you have the phone number of your bank with you at all times just in chase something doesn’t work - for us one time our credit card was blocked in a store and didn’t work anymore, for those cases always have some cash with you. And lastly definitely get a travel insurance, because I can tell you from experience that you don’t want to pay a fortune in US hospitals: I fell down in Yosemite National Park and scratched my wrists, knees and ankles; my parents had to pay 136$ to get my wounds cleaned and bandaged in a medical centre. Luckily we had a travel insurance so we got the money back.
  California-road-trip-landscape-dessert

If you have ANY other questions, make sure you put them in the comments or message me on my social media because I would be more happy than help you planning your own road trip through California. Kisses, Laura 


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