Salzburg, Austria in 24 Hours

So many people are gearing to study abroad this spring! I'm 100% on board. Spending a semester abroad will be, without a doubt, the best experience you have in college. You will learn and see so much, grow as a person, and come back to the U.S. more cultured and ready to take on the world.

I've decided to start a little travel series here on the blog. I hope you like it! Right now I'm aiming for every Thursday... but we will see how that goes!

First up is Salzburg, Austria.

Bear with me as I try to get through this post. Salzburg will always have a special place in my heart, since it was my home away from home for four months. I love everything about the city (except when it rains for days on end…) and there’s a lot to do, but if you’re only there for a day, here are the highlights you won't want to miss:

9:00: Get a donut (or two… or three) at Tasty Donuts on Theatergasse. You can thank me later. Personal favorites: Lady Marmalade, Cinnamon, and Berry and White. Honorable mentions: anything else.

9:30: Cross the main bridge to Getreidegasse. This is the most famous (and expensive) shopping street in Salzburg. Turn left and walk along the street until you get to Mozartplatz at the end. (“Christmas in Salzburg” is also a really cool store to go in if you get a chance! It’s on the way to Mozartplatz and features tons of painted eggs that are used as ornaments.) From Mozartplatz, make your way to the Residenzplatz, which is a block over. Spend time looking in the Dom and at the booths outside it.

10:30: Walk through St. Peter’s Cemetery next to the Dom to the other side. Make your way down the block to the Universitätplatz. Explore the booths and go inside the Universitätkirche. Pro tip: get a hotdog from one of the booths in the square. Again, you can thank me later.

11:30: Go through the alleyway toward Mozart’s Birth House. This is one of the more crowded areas of Salzburg, simply because it’s the birthplace of a prodigy. The museum is 7 with a student I.D., and cool… but it’s not necessary.

12:00: Make your way to the other end of Getreidegasse and see the horse wall. (There’s probably an actual name for this landmark, but you’ll know it when you see it.) From there take a right and cross the river on the bridge with the lovelocks. That bridge offers a fantastic view of the city! Plus it leads you right to the final stop, Mirabellgartens.

1:00: Once you’ve finished in the gardens, if the day is nice you could walk up Kaputzinerberg, off of Linzer Gasse. It’s not that hard and ends with a beautiful view of Salzburg! (Plus, there is an incredible and tiny crepe restaurant at the foot of the hill. Seriously. Amazing.)

2:00: Cross the river and make your way up Mönchberg. (Start walking toward the mountain and eventually you will find a path toward Hohensalzburg Fortress.) The hike is so worth it because at the top you will be treated to an incredible view of the city. Start by the fortress and make your way all around the back toward the Modern Art Museum. That’s my favorite view of Salzburg… Ever.

3:30: In the afternoon, there are a ton of of cute little cafes to stop by. Cafe Sacher (across the river from Getreidegasse) has amazing Sacher Torte - one of the most famous cakes in the world! You could also stop by a grocery store (or vending machine) and grab a Stiegl or two, and enjoy them down by the river. You could even tour the Stiegl brewery near the train station. This would also be a perfect time to shop for a dirndl as well. If you're trying to pack the Sound of Music highlights into this trip, you could also spend the afternoon at Hellbrunn Palace, the yellow house in the movie.

6:00: For dinner, go to Goldene Kugel on Getreide Gasse. Best schnitzel I’ve ever had in my entire life. Don't forget to order pretzels and beer to go with it!

8:00: Head across the city to Augustiner Bräuhaus for a nightcap. It's across the city, but you can easily walk to it next to the river.  This is Salzburg’s original beer, and it’s great. There are tourists, but not too many since it’s off the beaten path a little! There are a ton of locals with their own steins and reserved tables as well. A liter of beer is only €6,00 (half a liter is €3,00)

If you have an extra day in Salzburg, go up the Untersberg! It’s the giant mountain overlooking the city. (Seriously, you can’t miss it.) Get on the #25 bus at Rathaus or Mirabellplatz and buy a ticket from the driver (2,30). With a student I.D., the ticket up the mountain and back is €15, and the view is incredible! The last car down is at 5 P.M., but it’s a great place to go early and bring a picnic! There are several benches as well as two restaurants up at the top.

P.S. Check out my Europe MUST SEE List and some of my hostel recommendations!

Fall Break Trip to New York

Last weekend was our fall break from school. I can't believe this semester is already halfway over! It's going by so quickly... I was definitely not prepared.

I flew up to New York City with my sister. She stayed with her friend who recently transferred to Columbia University and I stayed with my cousin down in Battery Park City. It was such a great trip, I wish it was a little bit longer!

Columbia has one of the most beautiful campuses! I've seen a lot of colleges, but I was so impressed with it. I didn't even feel like I was in the city!

And finally for a live look into my future... ;)

And it wouldn't be a complete trip without some pizza!!

Buffalo chicken on EVERYTHING!!

Tips for Shy Girls

Whenever I tell people that I'm an introvert, nobody ever believes me! But I promise, I am! My official personality type from 16 Personalities (a Myers-Briggs based test) is ISTJ-T. Introverted, observant, thinking, judging, and turbulent. (LOL - sounds aggressive, but other ISTJ's include Denzel Washington, Natalie Portman, and Hermione!!)

I definitely consider myself to be an outgoing introvert, and in a field where my career is based of my public speaking ability it is SO important not to shy away from people like I want to most of the time!

Throughout the years I've learned a few tips and tricks to make me seem more outgoing and extroverted than I am! And then, when everything is all said and done, my bed is there to welcome me home!

Fake it 'til you make it // The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that if people think you are extroverted, the more extroverted you will feel. So when I really have to be extroverted, I force myself to smile bigger, laugh more, comment on more things, and people naturally just think that I'm more outgoing and extroverted!

Comment on things // We all have opinions. I've learned that just simply stating my opinions sometimes can start conversations and lead to friendships. I found this especially helpful my freshman year, and I still use it in classes to this day! Even commenting, "Wow I'm bad at accounting," can lead to the person sitting next to you agreeing, and asking if you want to study. (That sounds like something a "high school girl" magazine would say, but that is a personal anecdote!)

Learn to laugh at yourself // This goes hand in hand with embracing your natural awkwardness. Introverted and shy people act differently around people than extroverted people do. Conversation doesn't flow as easily, and sometimes awkward things slip out! The key to all of this is just laughing at yourself and your mistakes! Another quick anecdote, but my college campus has an insane amount of uneven bricks and I trip over them pretty much anytime I walk anywhere. This leads to me saying, "OMG Tori, watch out!" and then laughing at myself because I'm walking around campus talking out loud to myself. Super awkward, but the key is that I can laugh at my own mistakes and not beat myself up over them!

Reward "good" behavior // After a long hard day of talking to people and being "on" constantly... the only thing I want is my BED!! (And Grey's Anatomy and a glass (or bottle) of wine.) And that is A-OKAY!! Exerting enough energy to get through the day can be hard! But you did it, and just like the other amazing things you do, you should be rewarded!

Are you shy? How do you get through your days?

Be Where Your Feet Are

I've been finding myself thinking a lot about "what might have been" recently. What might have happened if I said something else, or reacted differently in a situation. Unfortunately this leads to a lot of me being totally consumed with what happened in the past, instead of focusing on the day in front of me.

Whenever I find myself thinking too much about things that I can't go back and change, I have to remind myself to be where my feet are - in the now. My feet are with me in the present, and they'll be with me as I move forward into the future, but they can't ever go back in the past.

A quick example, here: yesterday at our first home football game, as I was walking into the student section my phone fell out of my hand and landed screen first onto the ground. I knew as soon as it landed that it was most likely shattered and I didn't even want to pick it up. I did though, and yep - I was right. My screen is super shattered, and as someone who has never cracked a screen before, it's really disappointing. I think about it every time I look at my phone - which as a 21 year old, is a lot! But what was I going to do? Go back in time and not accidentally drop it? Magically heal the screen without dropping $100? I can't do that, so I just had to embrace the fact that my screen is cracked and I have three options moving forward: paying to replace it, living with a cracked screen, or waiting until my contract is up and I can upgrade to a new phone.

The past is in the past for a reason. Yes, maybe things would be different if we had done or said different things, but we didn't! Things are the way that they are for a reason - and if they are meant to be different, then they will all fall into place eventually.

As humans we are constantly moving forward. We have to keep our eyes on the prize and move forward until we get where we're going. We have to be where our feet are.

How I Wake Up Early

Ok, I usually am not really a fan of those posts that are something along the lines of "how to become a morning person!" because I don't believe that you can just become a morning or night person. As we grow older, our schedules change and we have to adapt to them, but some people wake up earlier than others and some people can stay up into the night and not even think twice about it.

With school in full swing, my routine has become more concrete and those early mornings are getting (somewhat) easier. And although I'm lucky that I am a morning person, getting up can still be really hard!

When I posted my morning routine last week, I was really surprised at how many people commented on how early I wake up! I guess I'm just used to it at this point, and don't see it as all that early. (When I worked for MSNBC in February, we had to be there for the morning shows at 5:30 so my alarm went off at 3:30. Now THAT was an early morning wake up call!)

Alarm Clock // I don't use my phone as my alarm. Seriously! I have a $10 alarm clock from Target that I love. It really helps me get out of bed and not look at my phone first thing in the morning! It's also just far enough from where I sleep that I have to at least partially sit up to turn it off. I seriously recommend getting one!

Breakfast // I mentioned on my morning routine post that I don't know how people can do mornings without breakfast. It is the best part of my day!! Okay... maybe that's an exaggeration, but still. Breakfast it something I look forward to to give me the energy that I feel like I'm lacking from an extra few minutes of sleep. I eat huge, indulgent breakfasts, too, so I'm always looking forward to it from the second my alarm goes off to when I'm finally sitting down to eat it.

Down Time // This almost goes hand in hand with breakfast. I remember in high school, my best friend told me that she woke up at 5:45 every day to get ready. She explained that she hated feeling rushed and didn't want to half-ass something because she spent extra time laying in bed. Now that I'm in college, I totally understand it. I love having extra time in the morning to do one thing at a time, or sip on my coffee while I watch the Today Show, rather than drinking coffee, eating breakfast, watching the Today Show and doing my makeup at the same time.

Notion of Productivity // I'll be honest with y'all... there are totally some days when I'm guilty of snoozing my alarm, skipping my workout, and laying in bed for an extra 40 minutes. (But I never actually go back to sleep... it's a weird genetic thing I share with my dad.) The fact that I'm still up before 6:00 makes me feel more productive in a weird way though! Ultimately, that's the best part about waking up early: everyone is so impressed with you and makes you feel put-together regardless of how you actually spent the morning.

Attitude // At the orientation for my internship, we got the pleasure of talking to the strength and conditioning coach for the football team. Every time I don't want to get out of bed in the morning, I can literally hear his voice in the back of my head telling me to get up! He mentioned that you'll really only be tired for a few minutes in the morning, regardless of what time you get up, so there's not really a huge point in snoozing your alarm until the last minute. That is so true! Once my alarm goes off, sure I want to get back to sleep, but when I'm up I'm up and ready to start my day.

What time do you wake up? How do you get up early?

What I Wish I Had Known

Next week, I begin my final semester of college. It's so strange to think about where I started freshman year. I was nervous and alone (literally, I was the only one from my graduating class to attend my school) and I didn't know what to expect. Looking back on the past 3.5 years, I've learned so much but there are still many things I wish I had known before starting college. So, from an almost-graduated senior to the freshmen staring at their cinderblock dorm room walls, here are the many (many) things I wish I had known.

  1. There is no cookie cutter version of college. Everyone's experience is different.
  2. Feeling not okay is not okay.
  3. Do not be afraid to reach out for help.
  4. YOU should be your number one priority.
  5. Sometimes the nights in the library will be just as memorable as the nights spent out and about.
  6. Eat the Taco Bell. Go to Sonic. Order the pizza.
  7. But don't skip out on the gym. (Learned a little too late on this one.)
  8. Find an organizational system that works for YOU.
  9. Productive and creative outlets are incredibly important for your mental well-being.
  10. DRINK WATER!!!
  11. Study abroad as much as you possibly can afford. You will learn much more out in the world than just sitting in the classroom.
  12. You are not weak for showing emotions.
  13. Boys suck. Don't listen to them. You deserve better.
  14. They will break your heart and you will think the world is ending, but it's not. Keep getting out of bed anyway.
  15. Friends come and go. Even the ones you think are forever.
  16. Take notes. Study them.
  17. Worry less about what people think.
  18. Never, EVER, judge someone for what they wear. 
  19. Be kind to everyone you meet.
  20. Take a deep breath.
  21. Everything happens for a reason. I know it sucks, but it's true.
  22. Being homesick is completely normal!!!!!
  23. You cannot control other people. You can control how you respond.
  24. Find a professor you can trust. Talk to them.
  25. Cry if you need to. But then be done with it.
  26. Instagram is not real life, but it's almost impossible not to get caught up in it. Familiarize yourself with the "deactivate" button and take a step back.
  27. You are much, much more than the amount of likes your picture gets.
  28. You are so incredibly young. Don't try to grow up so fast.
  29. If you don't bend, you will break.
  30. Learn to laugh at yourself, but avoid self-deprecating humor.
  31. Don't let the world beat you down.
  32. Learn to apologize. But only apologize when you are sincere about it.
  33. You are the source of your happiness.
  34. Wash your face. Moisturize your skin.
  35. Stand up for what you believe in.
  36. Make mistakes, learn your lessons, move on.
  37. Loosen up! People will act differently than you, but college is not the time for a judgmental attitude.
  38. If you don't love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?
  39. Sometimes, the best response is no response.
  40. If he wants to call, he will call.
  41. Find somewhere or something that you are passionate about and spend as much time there as you can.
  42. Figure out productive ways to channel your whole range of emotion: everything from blind rage (it happens) to elation.
  43. Reaching out to your on-campus counseling center will make you feel so much better.
  44. It is scary to ask for help, but that doesn't mean that you should try and do it all yourself.
  45. Smile more.
  46. Respond to people's messages sooner rather than later. (Applies to: emails, texts, voicemail, Tinder, Twitter, Facebook, IDK just respond.)
  47. Use this time to branch out. Talk to people you never thought you would be friends with. Learn from people whose opinions differ from yours.
  48. Prove yourself wrong, if no one else.
  49. Never give up. Never look back.
  50. Even through the thick of it, you will survive. I know it seems like everything is going wrong, but I promise you, you are stronger than you think.

Europe MUST SEE List

I feel so lucky that I have been able to travel around Europe for most of my life. My first-ever international trip was to Ireland when I was 10 months old, and I recently studied abroad in Austria and got to see so much of Eastern Europe that everyone overlooks. I've pretty much seen it all, and the parts that I haven't seen yet I hope I will see soon!

If you're planning on going to Europe, here is a round up of my MUST SEE cities (especially in your twenties!):

London, England // London is one of my all-time favorite cities in the world. I would move there tomorrow if I had the funds! London is rich in history and culture but is an easy adjustment to those traveling from the States. Plus, there are an amazing amount of day trips from London! (Some suggestions: Warner Bro's Harry Potter Experience (!!), Highclere Castle (from Downton Abbey), and Oxford College)

Paris, France // Paris is, of course, one of those cities you will always want to visit in your life. I've been as a child, as a 20 year old, and I know I will take my own young family someday. If you are able to, I cannot recommend going to Paris in your twenties enough. You can still do all of the sightseeing, but some of my favorite memories from Paris are nights when I bought a baguette, a block of brie, and some salami and I ate it underneath the Eiffel Tower while drinking cheap wine and watching it sparkle. (My parents would never have done that!)

Venice, Italy // The great news about Venice is that you can definitely see it in a day, or you can spread things out and make a trip of it (there are tons of day trips to more Italian islands, as well as more inland locations like Verona!). Like Paris, some of the best memories I have involve a cheap carton of wine (literally... 1 euro!) and hanging my feet over the edge of the canal and talking about life.

Munich, Germany // I'm partial to all of Germany, but Munich is absolutely my favorite German city. The region of Bavaria is so incredibly beautiful and Munich is the hub for all of that! Neuschwanstein Castle, Berchtesgaden, etc. It's all so beautiful! Plus, the nightlife in Munich is amazing, and there are a ton of seasonal festivals to go to.

Salzburg, Austria // Even though it could be a day (or two) trip from Munich, Salzburg deserves it's own spot on this list. First of all, it's where I studied abroad. (I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a "different" place to study!!) Second, the Sound of Music was filmed there. Not only is it nestled up in the foothills of the Alps (gorgeous mountains every where you turn), but everywhere you look you can recreate a part of the movie! It actually gets pretty annoying when tourists do this - but I'll admit it... I did it too. Many times.

Bratislava, Slovakia // One of the things that I loved about studying abroad in Austria is it's central location. So many Eastern European countries are a 3 or 4 hour train ride away, making it so easy to explore a part of the continent that is often overlooked. Bratislava is one of those places. It's actually sort of a suburb of Vienna, Austria, so it could also be a very easy day trip! Bratislava has a TON of history and culture, and fun fact, most of the "Prague Spring" during the downfall of the Soviet Union/Czechoslovakia happened in Bratislava, not Prague! (It's also on the Euro, which means you don't have to change currency like you would if you were going to Prague.)

Budapest, Hungary // Budapest is becoming a more and more popular location and I totally understand why. It's pretty inexpensive to go to, has a ton of culture and history, and an amazing nightlife. They're known for their "ruin pubs" AKA bars in rundown warehouses and destroyed buildings. It sounds creepy, but it's actually so cool. Another thing Budapest is known for are the hot baths! These are fun to go to and people watch!

Krakow, Poland // Poland was also high up on my "favorite places I visited" list. The country is so beautiful and also an inexpensive location. One of the reasons I liked Poland so much is the history. I had the chance to go on a tour to Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps. It was an incredibly emotionally heavy day, but I truly think that everyone needs to visit the camps at least once in their life if they are able. There are a gazillion reasons why I would recommend Poland to someone, but that is definitely #1.

Athens, Greece // I'm obsessed with Greece! I went twice while I was traveling and it was beautiful both times. Greece has the most interesting history, and Athens is packed full of it. If you're going while abroad, take your international student ID and you will get free entry to almost all of the archeological sites (the one exception being the Olympic Stadium - but don't let that discourage you from going... I literally cried real tears when I was there). If you're not a student, there are still tons of ticket packages you can get, too! The best part about Greece by FAR though, is the food! Greek food is incredible and amazing and I literally ate so much when I was there that I'm pretty sure I put on a few pounds. No regrets though!! I hiked it mostly off when I visited the Acropolis 7 times (3 to see the Parthenon, the rest to watch the sunset from the hill!). PRO TIP: Wake up extra early and be the first person at the Acropolis! Your pictures will be SO MUCH BETTER without as many tourists photobombing!

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Prague, Czech Republic; Florence, Italy; Santorini, Greece; Berlin, Germany; Amsterdam, the Netherlands

There are so many more cities that I could recommend to you, but these nine really are amazing. Please do not hesitate to ask me if you need hostel recommendations or any advice you need for backpacking Europe!

Are there any cities that you would definitely add to this list?

Publico Kitchen + Tap + Social

I tend to stick to the same two or three restaurants in Columbia. I know what I like, and I'm not really one to deviate from it!

One of those restaurants is Publico Kitchen + Tap + Social in Five Points.

Luckily, my parents love it too, so we went there for dinner on Saturday night when they were helping me move some of my stuff. The vibe of the restaurant is so cool, it's in a great location, and they have great food. And best of all, my dad loves their beer list. They have tons of local beers available!

I got the pineapple margarita (the Saturday special) and my mom got the house red sangria. Both were very good and very fruity, perfect for a summer night.

Publico also has one of my favorite combinations in Columbia. You can get 2 tacos and 1 side, 5 tacos and 2 sides, and 10 tacos and 5 sides. Perfect for yourself, to share with one person, or to split between a group! Plus, I've never had a taco from Publico that I haven't enjoyed!

My dad and I got 5 tacos and 2 sides. we both got a carnitos taco and an avocado crunch taco, and we split the cilantro shrimp. They were all good, but the carnitos and the shrimp were my favorites!

So good!! Along with tacos, they also offer salads, bowls, and burgers!

If you're looking for a fun, different restaurant to go to in Columbia, don't forget about Publico!

Drinking Green

I love snacking, but since I'm trying to be healthier, I've been trying to eat snacks that are better for me. Lots of nutrients, keeps me full, and most importantly: tastes good. Enter: green smoothie.

People always turn up their nose at green smoothies but they really are so great. They're easily customizable, and the spinach or kale used to turn them green can barely be tasted paired with the right fruits. Best of all, they take a while to drink so by the time you're done, you don't want anything else to eat!

These smoothies are so easy to make, too. I usually do the following ingredients:

1 handful spinach
1/2 avocado
1 small handful (frozen) mango
1 small handful (frozen) pineapple
fill up the cup with almond milk/coconut water

You can also sprinkle in some ginger for added "detox."

I always feel great after drinking one of these smoothies and know that it is healthier than most other smoothie choices! Happy blending!

My Trip to Oman

I landed back in the U.S. late Friday night from my Maymester to Oman. It feels great to be home where it's not 110 degrees every day! Plus, Oman's food is really influenced by Indian food and that is one of 2 genres of food that I really don't like so I was on the struggle bus a little bit. (As in my last meal before getting on the plane was the T.G.I. Friday restaurant down the street!)

On the first morning we went to the Grand Mosque. (It was so beautiful - I ended up going three times while I was there!) My luggage decided to stay for a little bit in London so I was scrapping together all the clothes I could find since we had to be extremely modest.

My hijab kept slipping off my head!

At least I was able to come back and have a proper photoshoot once my clothes came ;)

I had to get some henna while I was there.

One thing I will truly miss about Oman is the juice flavors! They love fresh juices on the hot days and you can definitely tell why! My personal favorites were mango and strawberry... and combined they were even better!

After a week in Muscat we took a tour with GuideOman (10/10 would recommend their tours!) and spent a night camping in Jebel Akhdar, two days in the smaller city of Nizwa, and one night "glamping" in the Wahiba Sand Desert. These were easily the best five days of the trip!! 

We took a small detour to the Grand Canyon of Oman and were surprised with a new friend - a mountain goat! Maybe this goat was very friendly or just wanted some of our food but he was hanging around us like it was NBD!

Now I just have to see the American Grand Canyon.

Oman is truly a beautiful country with wonderful people, but this trip definitely made me realize that European countries were more my cup of tea. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had to figure that out, and I definitely think that everyone should try to go to Oman at least once, just to see what the other side of the world is like!