The Betches’ Study Abroad Guide To London

Not to literally be the f*cking worst, but I can definitively say my semester abroad was the best semester of college so far. Admittedly, it could be because I didn’t cry over boys, have stupid drama, or fall down the steps of a frat house. I might not have gotten a Madonna-esque accent or pulled a Meghan Markle and married a prince during my three months abroad in London, but I’m still chuffed with the way I spent my time here.

While London may not be every student’s first thought when picking where to go abroad, it should really at least be in the top of five (if not top of the list). During my semester across the pond, I balled out in pubs, shopped waaaay more than I should have, and ate some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. London is a crazy, huge, exciting place, and I sadly didn’t experience everything. However, whether you’re thinking of a semester in the best city in the world (seriously, don’t fight me on this) or you’re just taking a short trip, think of this list as a starting point. Cheers!

General Living

One of the significant perks of studying abroad in London is that it’s pretty much New York, but with accents. While the U.K., and, specifically London, is definitely more western and modern than places like Madrid or Rome, some random things may be confusing at first. 

Your home in London will likely be a dorm or a flat (aka an apartment). I really lucked out and lived with three other girls in a 2br/2ba apartment. While this may have made things difficult when we were getting ready to go out, it was a perfect set-up for a transition between on-campus and off-campus housing. 

Your flat will likely have some weird washer-dryer hybrid (if you have a dryer at all), and you’ll probably have a dishwasher, which is honestly super nice.

If, upon arriving abroad, you discover the sheets and towels your program gave you are grimy and insufficient (seriously, we were each given one small hand-towel and that’s it), don’t freak out. The city is littered with home goods and department stores. While literally nothing could ever compare to Target, chains like M&S and TK Maxx (the British TJ Maxx) will have everything you need to get.

If you’re looking for something like Walgreens or CVS, I have great news for you. Boots, my new favorite store, is basically what I imagine CVS and Ulta’s love child would be. Seriously, I got my eyebrows done in a Boots that was located in a Tube station. I could write an essay about it and will go on for days, but truly, where else can you buy Calpol (British Tylenol) and YSL products in one place?


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As far as food shopping goes, the most common grocery stores are Sainsbury, Co-op, Waitrose, and Tesco. M&S is the closest you’ll get to something like Target since they carry food, clothes, and a ton of random things. There are also a few Whole Foods locations scattered throughout the city if you’re into that, but they tend to be far from where students are based. When you go grocery shopping, they do charge for bags, so I found saving bags or purchasing reusable ones to be both fiscally and environmentally responsible

While London has a thousand amazing restaurants, many of them are pretty expensive, so I recommend saving those for when your parents come to visit. London can be a pretty expensive city overall, so it’s essential to keep track of your spending, especially as it pertains to food. I promise that while the local cuisine is good, it isn’t worth bankrupting yourself within the first month. 

When it comes to electronics, sh*t gets dicey. Due to my lack of understanding of voltage conversion, I accidentally blew the battery on my laptop during my first week here. Do yourself a favor and make sure you’re getting the right type of chargers that will properly adapt to the outlets, and won’t break your stuff. 

Keep in mind the outlets in the U.K. are different from those in the rest of Europe (because I guess having different currency isn’t already enough of a pain in the ass). If you’re planning on traveling during your time abroad, which you should, I recommend getting one of those converters that let you change its settings so you don’t have to buy separate ones. 


London is very walkable, and there is ample public transport thought the city, which makes it easy to be sustainable and to ball on a budget! While the transportation system is admittedly confusing at first (I accidentally got on the Tube alone my first week and had a minor panic attack), it is super easy to adjust to and figure out. I recommend downloading the app CityMapper. It has minute-by-minute updates of line closures and shows you every way to get to a location by comparing the costs and travel time.

Flying: While London isn’t the cheapest place to travel to and from, flying is definitely the easiest way to get to most cities in Europe. Flights in and out of Heathrow are pretty pricey, but there are a ton of other, more affordable airports surrounding the city. Look for flights on Ryanair and EasyJet, they’re basically the European equivalents to Spirit.

When it comes to getting to the airport, I recommend taking the train from the city. Train times are predictable where London traffic is anything but. If you decide to Uber, give yourself tons of extra time. 

Trains: Trains are great to get anywhere else in the U.K. and places like Amsterdam and Paris. I took the Eurostar to Amsterdam and flew back, and the train was 100 times more pleasant. Make sure you book a ticket beforehand, and I recommend paying extra for a seat; otherwise you might end up standing for three hours, and I know from experience it’s the f*cking worst. 

Buses: Public transport is everywhere in London, and there’s a bus stop every hundred yards. While the buses are super convenient, they aren’t the fastest way to move around. Again, traffic in London is literally terrible. 


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Just put the finishing touches on this lovely destination for a very special VIP family. The kids will be so excited when they “receive” their travel plans to London this Christmas morning! I love designing the perfect holiday gift to put under the tree. What would you like to have waiting under your tree this year? Be sure to tag your significant other so they get the hint😉!

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The Tube: The crown jewel of London’s public transport system. Seriously, picture the subway but way cleaner and way more chill. The Tube is usually the fastest way to get from place to place. We were given oyster cards (aka transit cards) at the beginning of the semester and refilled a few times before we realized we could use Apple Pay to get in and out of the stations. 

Uber: Uber is a little uncertain in London right now, as there’s an ongoing legal battle about whether they can keep their license to operate there. However, they left before and made a comeback. There are a variety of ride-share apps that are specific to the city and similar to Uber if it isn’t around when you visit. Uber can be a necessity, especially late at night, because public transport stops around 1am. 


One of the most significant aspects of culture shock I experienced in London is that people actually dress up for class. Leggings and the frat sweatshirt you stole from the guy you hooked up with freshman year won’t cut it. I obviously dressed cute on the first day to make a good impression on hot guys from across the pond, but I was shocked to discover my classmates wearing, like, dresses to class in the second week. People in London tend to dress really well, so be prepared to step up your game a little bit when it comes to daily attire.


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My face when someone is telling me their side of the story but i know the truth.🤗✨ – La mia faccia quando qualcuno mi sta raccontando la sua versione della storia, ma io conosco già la verità.🤗✨ – 📸: @dani_bosch88

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When it comes to hair and skincare in London, there are a few essential things to remember. The weather is somehow frigid, humid, and dry all at the same time. The air quality is also no friend to sensitive skin. While drinking water might combat some of this, I also highly recommend investing in a few good face masks (I like Drunk Elephant’s Babyfacial and Glossier’s Moisturizing Moon Mask), deep conditioner, and some sort of hydrating hair product. 

If you’re like me, and super reliant on your heat tools, I highly recommend investing in those made explicitly for European or British outlets. It’ll save you a whole lot of heartbreak when the flat iron you’ve had since junior year of high school burns out on the first week. RIP.


Breakfast and Brunch

There are many fantastic breakfast and brunch places here. While I’m not huge on breakfast, there were a few spots almost every study abroad student will consider a “must.” I recommend exploring your area to find breakfast places because there are cute cafes all over the city. 

EggBreak: EggBreak, located in Notting Hill, is the best brunch I had in London. We ordered half of the menu to split, but I honestly wish I had gotten everything. The neighborhood is super cute, which makes the long wait bearable.  


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It’s brunch time and we’ve got you covered. 📸 @londoncoffeeshops

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The Breakfast Club: There are a few locations throughout the city, it’s pretty affordable and has a huge menu.


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High Tea

If you’re of the mentality that there’s no point in going to London if you aren’t going to high tea, you’re not necessarily wrong. Most of the time, champagne is included, which is super fun, especially if you’re not a huge tea drinker. Tea will typically eat up a few hours and take a sizable chunk of your abroad budget, depending on the place. I recommend a nicer, more traditional tea with your parents if they visit, and one of the trendier ones with your friends. 

SketchTHE place to go for bathroom mirror selfies. It is super vibey, and the restaurant is totally gorgeous, and the tea itself is also great. As a bonafide allergy kid, I really appreciated their nut-free option, mainly because most high tea places have set menus. 


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Beyond space and time…Christmas reaches far and wide… ____________________ Christmas is here, there and everywhere with the help of @cirocvodka @champagnepommeryuk @casamigos @belsazar_vermouth #sketchChristmas #sketchLondon #sketchPods #EATMUSICDRINKART

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Beas of Bloomsbury: This place is super cute and there are a few locations. It’s a pretty traditional tea, but definitely worth going to. 


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A selection of fine cut sandwiches & mini brioche, with specially selected sweet treats and your choice of @cantontea ☕ Vegetarian and Gluten Free options available. Head to the link in our bio to book 💕⁠ ⁠ . ⁠ . ⁠ . ⁠ ⁠ #london #prettylittlelondon #instagram #londoninstagram #pinklondon #londoncoffeeshop #londoncakeshop #londonbakery #londonafternoontea #afternoontea #hightea #champagne #teatime #tea #tealover #foodie #londonfood #londoneats #londonlife #londonrestaurants #londonfoodblogger #londonblogger #londonfoodies #timeoutlondon

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Mad Hatters (Gin &) Tea PartyNo words can do this justice, but it’s a crazy-fun experience. You’ll never do anything else like it, and it’s a must if you’re visiting London. 


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Head to the post for details of our giveaway where you can win a pair of tickets. Comp closes at 4pm so don’t be late! ⏲️ Or book tickets from the link in the bio. • • • • • #madhattersginteaparty #cocktail #london #wonderland #cheshirecat #popup #gin #immersive #theatre #aliceinwonderland #mixology #madhattersteaparty #cocktails #happy #secretlondon #madhatter #londonlife #teaparty #madhattersgtparty #mixologist #bar #gintonic #drinkporn #drink #londontown #instagood #fever #feveroriginal #kitandcaboodle #purveyorsofwow

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Peggy Porschen: We went here for tea on my friend’s birthday. It was super cute and the brunch food was delicious. We didn’t get the high tea menu, but the atmosphere was super pretty. 


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The sun is out today in our pretty and pink corner of London 💕 #Mondaymotivation Thank you for the pretty photograph @thewonderoflondon 📸 #peggyporschenchelsea @kingsroadchelsea #pasteldreams #prettycorners

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CocoChan: CocoChan is hands down my favorite restaurant in London. Its Asian fusion menu has something for everyone, even super picky eaters. The restaurant is aesthetically pleasing, and the drinks are amazing.  


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VEGAN EVERYTHING! ✨ With our sharing towers you get to try all the best #vegan dishes! Check out the Garden tower with #veggietempura, mushroom #dumplings, Robata #grilledtofu, #japaneseseaweedsalad, #moromimiso broccoli and #enokifritters! You heard it here first! 💕 #foodvibes #veganinlondon #madewithmeaning #cocochanlondon #veganvibes #sharingplates #marylebone #bondstreet #londonfoodie #panasian #asianplates #cocktails #stchristophersplace _______________________

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Coppa Club: Coppa Club is super yummy, if a little expensive. It’s perfect for sharing a ton of stuff. They have igloos you can dine in that fill up months in advance, so make sure to plan ahead.


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With just a few days to go until the February-April Igloo bookings become available, we wanted to show some of the details from our very own Winter Woodland, that was designed by @gina.brennan

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NandosYour London experience isn’t complete until you’ve had a cheeky Nandos with ~the lads~. It’s really just chicken and variations on normal chicken dishes with killer sides. Get the Peri Chips; you won’t regret it. 


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Friend pouring gravy: “Say when” Me: . . . . . . . “…When”

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DishoomThere are a few locations of Dishoom around the city. It’s really great Indian food


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A Friday-night feast, to be sure.⁣ ⁣ 📸: @alfadalah

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GloriaThis is part of a restaurant group that has locations in Paris and other cities. It has incredible Italian food and is great for both brunch and dinner. The second location in London is called Circolo Popolare, and it’s equally as amazing. 


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Feel good Friday just got better 🔥#pastafrescaporn

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Santore Italian: We found this place on the second day of the semester by accident, and it was our go-to. Tbh, it isn’t, like, the best Italian ever, but it’s close. The thing that really drew us in was the pizzas—you can order a half, ¾ or full meter pizza which can be split up with whatever toppings you want. I’m not saying three of us finished the full meter, but I’m also not not saying that.  

Gordon Ramsay Bar and Grill: Honestly, I’ve never watched his shows, but if they are half as good as the meal I had at his restaurant, I might have to start. Save yourself the stress over what to order and go with the Truffle Burger. Trust me. 


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This truffle season, why not treat yourself to a homemade Truffle Burger! Visit our stories for Gordon’s world-class recipe. ✨ @makersmark #TruffleSeason #TruffleMakers

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Quick Bites and Others

Ben’s Cookies: These cookies were THICC. Always ask for them fresh out of the oven. 


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Everything we love unconditionally about #benscookies in one clip! 😍 👉🏻 @maxime_lrnt

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Hummingbird Cupcakes: We got my friend’s birthday cake here, and it was terrific. Honestly, it’s similar to Magnolia Bakery in NYC but still worth visiting. They have a few locations around the city and are very accommodating with allergies. 


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Here’s our lovely Star of the Month, Maria-Chiara Carra, recently promoted to Front of House Team Leader at our Islington bakery! If you’d like to join our bakeries in any role, kitchen or front of house, send your CV to [email protected] 🌟 . . #mariachiara #maria #islington #bakery #baking #kitchen #frontofhouse #cupcakes #starofthemonth #career #jobs #londonbakery #londonjobs #newstart #apply #jobhunting #bakerylife #teamhummingbird

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Itsu: Itsu is a chain sushi place. It might not be Nobu quality, but the food is good and the service is always fast. 


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🎶 i’thai to say goodbye and I choke⁣⁣ Try to walk away and I stumble⁣⁣ Though i’thai to hide it, it’s clear⁣⁣ My world crumbles when you are not here⁣ 🎶⁣ ⁣⁣ Full disclosure, Macy Gray came up on shuffle yesterday whilst I was eating an i’thai udon for lunch, and now here we are. That’s my creative process. ⁣🤯⁣ ⁣⁣ I’ll take any excuse to rave about this little beauty though – creamy, crunchy, spicy…and it’s steamed, not fried! ♨️⁣ ⁣ Bow down to the enviable photography skills of the @foodtease_ gang 📸 ⁣ ⁣ #vegan #ithai #healthy #noodles #itsu

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Harrod’s Food Hall: These are fantastic food stands on the first floor of Harrods. It’s so worth a visit, and you can find literally every type of food there. 

Going Out

I’m not a huge club person, but London has an incredible nightlife with a ton of things for everyone. Clubs, bars, and pubs are all different things, with pubs being the most chill option. 

If you’re looking for a good night out and don’t want to spend a ton of money, check out Wicked Student Nights. It’s a website that shows you all of the deals in the city for students, and where you’ll have the best chance of meeting people your age and other students who are abroad. 

Barrio: I have a few friends who are local to London, so when I went out with them, they always tried to take us to places tourists tend to stay away from. Barrio was one of my favorite places we went out, and I definitely wish we went more often. It’s almost a frat party vibe and is the perfect mix between a bar and a club. However, it’s weirdly 21+, even though the legal drinking age is 18. Nevertheless, we were friendly to the bouncers and ended up not having any issues getting in as 20-year-olds. 


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Did you get to try Barrio Brixton’s special Chillirinha?! What were your thoughts? It was voted London’s Best Exotic Caipirinha by you in this year’s London Caipirinha Festival and of course, we’re absolutely thrilled! Thank you for your love, support and votes. 🤗🏅⁠ -⁠ -⁠ -⁠ #londonbars #londonvenues #cocktailbars #latinbars #brasiltolondon #londontobrasil #spirits #cocktails #mixology #drinkoftheday #whatsonlondon #caipirinhafest #london #brazil #cachaça #caipirinha #brasil #londoncocktails #londonbylondoners #cocktailsanddreams #drinkpretty #cocktailoclock #boozy #cocktailsarealwaysagoodidea #londonsbest #friendswhodrinktogetherstaytogether⁠ #LondonCaipirinhaFestival⁠

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Big ChillI wish I went here the first night, but I waited till my last week to visit. It’s in Shoreditch, which is the best area in the city to go out because it’s super easy to hop around from place to place. Like Barrio, it’s a mix between a bar and a club and has a really cute outdoor area for the rare nights it’s not negative 100 degrees! The drinks weren’t crazy expensive, and the atmosphere was (excuse the pun) very chill. 


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Feeling fragile? Along with drinks, our crew serves up the best hugs 💛

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ICE BAR London: Very hyped up, but way worth it. Really, we paid like, 20 pounds for one drink and an Insta pic. However, I’m totally comfortable saying that I did it for the ‘gram. This is a place you go with a small group of friends, and not somewhere you stay all night. You book your ticket in advance, and it includes a drink, a jacket and gloves, and forty-five minutes inside the bar.


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J chillen, hbu? #abroad

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The AlchemistOne of the coolest bars I went to, with locations scattered around London. If you know anyone who’s basic and ever visited London, I’m sure you saw 100 pics and Boomerangs of a smoking cocktail on their Snapchat and Instagram stories. All of their drinks have some science element to them and taste amazing. It isn’t the cheapest option, but truly worth every penny. 


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Join us for a masterclass in mixology at the Eat & Drink Festival at Olympia on the 10th and 11th of April! On Friday join us for a science lesson you won’t want to miss! Our Head of Bar Training & Development, Elliot will be talking all things molecular mixology 👨‍🔬⚗️ If you manage to bag a seat in the front two rows you’ll also nab a mini cocktail concoction ✨ On Saturday get stuck in yourself* with an hour-long cocktail masterclass where you’ll learn how to make some of our theatrical showstoppers! 🍹Bag your tickets via the link in our bio! *Ts&Cs apply – sample volunteers selected• • #Olympia #London #Hammersmith #eatanddrinkfestival #foodies #drinks #mixology #londoneats

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Old Street RecordsI’ll be honest, I never went here, but plenty of people I know did. It seems fun enough and similar to Big Chill. From what I’ve been told, it’s good vibes and pretty relaxed. 


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Join us for a night of live tunes from James Willard this evening, washed down with a cocktail or three 💥 . . . #shoreditch #eastlondon #londonders #hackney #hoxton #oldstreet #visitlondon #timeoutlondon #oldstrecords #oldstreetrecords #DMNDrinks #MyFavouriteCocktail #CocktailsUK #ttcocktails #CocktailPicsDaily #timeoutlondon #londonscocktails #foundlondon #londonder #igerslondon #londonblogger

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Slug and LettuceI said it to my friends, and I’ll say it here: scatter my ashes in Slug and Lettuce. There are dozens of locations throughout the U.K., and all of them are super different. Still, the drink menu is pretty much the same at all of them (order the Pornstar Spritz, it’s the best drink I’ve ever had). My favorite location is located right next to the Gherkin. It’s always filled with cute finance boys who just got out of work. 


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🤎✨NEW COCKTAILS✨🤎 ———————————————————— Sicilian Spritz joins the ‘Spritz family’!👯‍♀️ – – Our NEW Gordon’s Sicilian lemon gin🍋💚 – 🌟Enjoy 241 on all our cocktails from 4 to 10pm every day🌟#newdrinks #newcocktails #happyhour #cocktails

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Ballie Ballerson: Similar to ICE BAR, Ballie Ballerson is more the type of thing you do for the experience and isn’t the move for a real night out. It’s best with a small group of people as you have to book your tickets in advance. Ballie Ballerson is the type of place you go to for good pics and good company, not for a clubbing vibe. 


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Leap year babies! Time to make up for all those missed birthdays with free ball pits, a cocktail and a sweet cake on 29th February at Ballie Ballerson. Just give us a call to get booked in, phone number in bio 🥳✨ #leapyear (please note, ID is required to prove leap year birthday)

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O’Neill’s: This place is an American student magnet on Thursday nights. Seriously, almost everyone you see here is someone studying abroad or a creepy older guy. Go with a big group and pregame hard, and you’ll have an enjoyable night. If you go there earlier in the night, you can expect to see a live band playing classic rock. 

Tiger Tiger: If you’re looking for a place to peak, look no further. Tiger Tiger was one of the most fun places I experienced. It has several floors, an entertaining crowd, and is great for a proper night out. 


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🍾🥂🍾 Want to get yourself a VIP experience at Tiger Tiger? Tickets starts at £5 and we have drink packages for every budget. 💃🏻 Join us this weekend! Happy Hour is on from midday till 6pm. 🥳 🎟

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Piccadilly Institute: Similar to Tiger Tiger and O’Neill’s. I loved Piccadilly Institute and wish I had more chances to go. They frequently have deals for students and are always playing good music. 


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Join us for happy hour 🍻🥂 • • • • • #drinks #goodtime #friend #happyhour #friendship #dj #cocktails #goodtimes #memories #birthday #cheers #edm #bestfriend #bartender #mixology #cocktail #instafun #besties #nightlife #bff #club #bestfriends #rave #mixologist #crazy #chill #bf #booze #laughing #goodfriends

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Markets, Sights, and Activities

There are more things to do in and around London than there were days I had studying abroad, so I sadly didn’t get to visit every single attraction. Something I wish we’d done at the beginning of our time abroad was list everything we wanted to do so we could make real plans and fit in all of these sights. London has tons of museums, many of which are free or affordable for students, and are totally worth taking advantage of. 

Abbey Road: Home of the famous Beatles album cover picture, f*cking obviously. If you’re super committed to taking the perfect Instagram pic there, you better get there as early as possible because it’s just a normal crosswalk and is located at a pretty busy intersection. There is also a store dedicated to the record label and The Beatles that is super cute. 

Big Ben: The entire thing is under construction until next year, so there’s scaffolding everywhere, but I couldn’t just not mention Big Ben.


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@MrLondon serving up some #London 2017 nostalgia … some parts of London are forever blowing bubbles… 😍 // #thisislondon #bigben #elizabethtower #westminster #coyi #housesofparliament

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Borough Market: Okay, this was the BEST food market I went to in London. When my mom visited me, we got spiked cider and walked around the market for a little bit. It’s excellent for artisan food shopping (if that’s your thing) and even better for getting a few things to split for lunch. Honestly, some of the best food I had abroad was in Borough Market. 


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In @kitchenstories_official new travelling web series ‘To Market We Go’, they visit some of Europe’s very best markets to show you how to find, cook, and enjoy the very best produce back in your own kitchen. In this episode, chef turned tour guide @rocketandsquash journeys through the Market to uncover some of the not-so-hidden gems it has to offer. Head to our Stories to watch the full video now 🍴. #boroughmarket #ourboroughmarket #producemarket #foodmarket

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British Museum: The British Museum is a super cool place to visit. They house the Rosetta Stone, which, if you’re like me (aka a huge nerd), is a pretty big deal. 


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The Enlightenment Gallery – photographed here by @solo_irenee – is the oldest space in the Museum, and once housed King George III’s Library. Share your photos of the Museum with us by tagging the location 📍🏛📸 #BritishMuseum #London #photo #UK #museum #📸

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Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard: They don’t do the Changing of the Guard every day, and it’s honestly kind of confusing if you aren’t able to see the whole thing. Make sure you check the dates and get there early enough to get the right spot. If you aren’t able to see the Changing of the Guard for whatever reason, the palace is still really cool to look at. 


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Blossom is springing up all over Britain now that spring has finally sprung!🌸🌺This 📷 from @snowflakesfairy captures the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral in London, with that oh-so-lovely cherry blossom in the foreground . . #buckinghampalaceshop #StPaulsCathedral #londonsun

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Camden Market: Camden Market is one of my favorite places to go in London. There is an art market and a dozen or so food stalls that are all, like, out of this world. As the Taylor Swift song suggests, Camden is a really cool place to walk around and explore. 


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You can finally pick up your #blackroses from our #darkromance pop up from today onwards! Pick up a stem or bouquet from 12pm onwards 🖤🖤🖤 #camdenmarket #valentines #valentinesday #roses #blackbouquet #perfectgift #stablesmarket #camdenlockmarket #northyard

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Churchill War RoomsI can’t say enough about this. The Churchill War Rooms are tunnels and rooms underneath Westminster that protected Winston Churchill and his team while they strategized during the Second World War. It was easily the best thing I did in London, and I may or may not have been so moved by the museum inside that I cried a little. This is a major must-visit. Seriously, you have to go.  

Covent GardenA little bougie, but super fun to visit. There’s a ton of small, cute restaurants and an art market surrounded by high-end stores. It’s a great place for people watching and walking around. 


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Sparking joy and spreading love, that is what Le Pink Figaro is all about. The love bug was given a Valentine’s Day makeover and is sharing the love this weekend. Have you spotted Le Pink Figaro in Covent Garden? #CoventGarden #LePinkFigaro #PrettyCityLondon #VisitLondon #ThisisLondon

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Football Games: I’m not a huge sports girl, but, when in London, right? There are a ton of Football Clubs (teams) in the area, and while one of my frat guy friends passionately told me which team to root for, I had no idea what he was saying. Anyway, if you want the authentic British experience, it is definitely worth attending a game. 

Hampton Court: While not quite as far as Stonehenge, Hampton Court is still pretty far from the city. I recommend carving out a little more than half a day to tour this stunning palace and the gardens. Since most of the palace and the coolest things to see are outside, I’d recommend doing this in warmer weather. 


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On 25 February 1723, Christopher Wren died. He was one of the most distinguished and popular architects of the 17th century, and he was appointed Surveyor of the Royal Works in 1669. Fountain Court at Hampton Court Palace was designed by Wren and building began in 1700. It was part of an ambitious rebuilding project of the palace commissioned by William and Mary, creating a fashionable baroque palace to replace large parts of the Tudor building. His gravestone inscription reads “If you seek his memorial, look around you.” Read on about the building of Hampton Court Palace – follow the link in our bio . . . #history #baroque #baroquearchitecture #architecture #christopherwren #otd #onthisday #thisdayinhistory

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Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum: If you’re abroad in the winter, going ice skating is totally worth it. Honestly, there are a ton of places to ice skate, including a really gorgeous rooftop bar. 


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Lookin back on #abroad like (The boomerang took me 8 tries at least)

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London Bridge: It’s right above the Borough market, and the coolest thing about it was the view you get of Tower Bridge. Nonetheless, the cool history makes it worth a visit. 

London Eye: The London Eye offers an incredible view of the city (duh). As someone who is terrified of heights, I can confirm it’s not as scary as I thought it would be!


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Sundays are for relaxing, eating…oh and being 135m in the air 👏 #EyeLoveLondon 📸: @garancejuliette

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Museum of London: The Museum of London takes you through decades of London’s history and has incredible exhibits featuring musicians and other interesting Londoners. It’s no Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress, but it’s still awesome. 


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We’re so excited to have reached a new and important milestone on our #NewMuseumforLondon journey: the planning application is IN. Find out more about our plans via the link in our bio. 📸: Atelier78 . . . . . . #NewMuseum #museum #museumoflondon #planningapplication #cityoflondon #movingamuseum #westsmithfield #farringdon #london #news

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Parent Trap House: My mom and I were really excited to go to the Parent Trap house for obvious reasons. However, it turned out to be a bit of a letdown. Someone actually lives there, so it’s not like you can tour the inside or even get that close to the house without being super awkward. While I recommend going if you love the movie and have the time, it isn’t a must-see. 

Portobello Market: This market is in Notting Hill, and honestly has the best crêpes ever. There are tons of food and art booths, and it’s a great place to walk around for a while. 


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@MrLondon wandering down #PortobelloRoad… another weekend, another storm. 🤷🏻‍♂️☔️ Heading home for pancakes with @alice.sampo 🥞 Could be worse…! 😜 __________________________________________ #thisislondon #london #nottinghill #portobello

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St. James Park: Right near Buckingham palace, this park is super pretty to walk around when you visit the palace or are in the area. 


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There’s a little slice of Japan’s famous cherry blossom in St James’s Park at the moment. The blossom is treasured because it’s so beautiful but so fleeting. 🌸 📸: @wayoutwest2015 . #park #parklife #london #visitlondon #lovelondon #thisislondon #londonlife #igers_london #igersengland #nature #mothernature #naturephotography #naturelovers #instagood #beautiful #photooftheday #ukpotd #gloriousbritain #hanami #cherryblossom #sakura

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Stonehenge: Ok, full disclosure, I didn’t make it to Stonehenge, and that might be my biggest regret of abroad. It’s super far from London, but I genuinely think the trip would have been worth it.


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Cabin fever setting in this half-term? We’ve got lots of family fun with Moon Mayhem, a fast-paced drop-in show exploring the moon and its connection with Stonehenge. And look at all that space and fresh air! Come see us ☺️

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Tower of LondonThis is where the Crown Jewels are. The line is always super long, but it’s worth the wait, and it moves really fast. 


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A stunning rainbow above the #TowerOfLondon is our favourite #PalacePhoto this week 🌈 Thanks to @justadamtalk on Instagram for tagging this picture 💛💙💚💜 . . . #photooftheweek #photography #palacephotos #london #londonphotography #rainbow

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West End: Seeing a show on the West End is a must. The tickets are waaay cheaper than Broadway, and the shows are just as good, if not better. If you go on a Wednesday afternoon, you can stop by a ticket office to find really cheap tickets. 


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King George said we’ll be back. He was right. (Get it? Bc I’m abroad in England? Haha)

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Westminster Abbey: This historical church is totally stunning. A trip to London isn’t complete without a visit. Seriously, no words can do it justice. 


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If you’d like to explore the Abbey after dark, we offer reduced rate entry on Wednesday evenings Take a self-led tour and see highlights including the Coronation Chair, Poets’ Corner and Grave of the Unknown Warrior Visit our website for more details – link in bio #Museum30 #AfterDark #WednesdayLates

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Working Out

As I mentioned above, living in London has a few similarities to living in Manhattan, and many of the workout class options are similar (if not the same) as what we have in the states. 

SoulCycleI don’t really think this needs an explanation. My friends usually went to classes at the Mayfair location, but there is a Soul in Notting Hill. 

Barry’s Boot CampSimilar to SoulCycle, this really doesn’t need an explanation. My understanding is that Barry’s is a HIIT-style workout where you run on the treadmill and then lift weights. There are a few Barry’s locations in London, and I’ve never been to a single one, but I have friends who are obsessed with it.

KoBox: KoBox is the hardest workout I’ve ever done. If you are familiar with Rumble boxing, it’s pretty similar. You’ll spend your class split between bodyweight workout and hitting the bag. I frequently go to more traditional boxing classes at home, and while this isn’t what I was used to, it is my new favorite. There are a few locations throughout London, but my favorite studios are Mayfair and City. 


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⁣ Our very own @fitnesswith_mk working out and having fun in the brand new spanking gym #13! ⁣ ⁣ If you haven’t checked out the new gym yet, what are you waiting for? ⁣ ⁣ #13⁣ #BoxingJustNotAsYouKnowIt⁣ #FightClubMeetsNightclub

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Studio Lagree: Again, this studio has locations scattered throughout  London. It offers a traditional mega-former workout, so if you’ve hopped on the SLT bandwagon, this is your best bet at finding something comparable when traveling in the U.K. 


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Look in the mirror, that’s your competition. It’s YOU vs YOU. Don’t compare to others only try to better yourself and improve for yourself. This way you’re going to see the biggest progress 👏

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Fitness Clubs: This is what gyms are called in the U.K. I recommend looking into joining whatever your Uni has to offer, since they tend to have the best student rates. However, although my roommates and I all joined our Uni fitness club, it was really far from our flat, so we rarely used it. Distance is essential to consider if you’re going to sign up for a gym. 

London is enormous, and there’s no way to experience everything the city has to offer in one semester. It can be hard to truly take advantage of everything in the city and still maximize your weekend trips. Like I said before, studying abroad in London is really the best of both worlds. You get close enough to a real ~European~ abroad experience, without having to deal with language barriers or people who like, really dislike Americans. 

Honestly, and I know it’s so obnoxious to say, but abroad did change me, and I wouldn’t trade a second of my time here for the world. 

Pip pip, cheerio, mates! 

Images: Aron Van de Pol / Unsplash, Santore Restaurant, Harrods, Giphy (3)

The Types Of People Who Get Back From Studying Abroad

The spring semester is full of exciting experiences, like spring break and the return of #dartyszn. It’s also full of some pretty dreadful things: like listening to someone begin every sentence with, “last semester, when I lived—sorry, studied abroad—in Par-ee…” While it’s definitely great to see all of your friends who were gone the last semester, hearing about how everything is “just sooooo much better abroad” over and over again gets pretty old pretty f*cking fast. Not to worry, I’m here to salvage your relationships with some tips for dealing with your friends who can’t help but use every breath to remind you they studied abroad in the fall.

The “Bilingual” B*tch

People who study abroad looove to act like they’re suddenly fluent in another language after just a couple of months. Even the ones who went to London. Like, sure, I may not have a clue what a crumpet is (it has something to do with tea, right?) but I’m 100% positive it’s in the Oxford English dictionary—emphasis on English, so chill out, Jessica. All you’ve got to do when someone starts slipping Spanish, Italian, or French words into the conversation is tell them that you must have taken the same language course: reading a restaurant menu. More power to you if you’re able to hold an elementary conversation in another language, but let’s be real—the only words most people learn while they’re abroad are the names of the food and drinks from that country.

The Self-Proclaimed Foodie

Look, I get it. Food that isn’t from America is “life-changing.” If I could have freshly baked bread and burrata for literally every meal, I would. But unfortunately, that’s not how it works in college dining halls, where you can only hope that your food is made with some ingredients that could legally be classified as food, and not “eggs” that came from a bag. Next time your friend starts going on and on about how the food here just doesn’t compare, say “listen, I f*cking believe you. But let’s make the most of this mystery meat cardboard pizza, unless you actually have some of that mind-blowing food you keep talking about to eat instead.” As long as you keep throwing their mediocre food account on Insta some likes, they’ll get over any initial hurt feelings.

The Cultured One

Obviously, traveling is a great way to immerse yourself in other cultures. There are a sh*t ton of museums and monuments and to visit, and the fact that you’re in a different part of the world altogether is a learning experience. Get ready to listen to your friends talk about how ~cultured~ they’ve become since living abroad. How they went to different museums every week, and were always trying new foods, and reading new books, and speaking to locals in their native tongue. Ask them if they’ve stepped foot in a museum since getting home, or watched anything more foreign than the British version of The Office, and they’ll be forced to come to terms with the fact that they haven’t really changed as much as they’re putting on.

The One With A Story For Everything


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you blacked out last night and woke up with your ex? lol bitch i blacked out and woke up in jail

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Apparently, even the smallest thing can remind someone of a never-ending story about their time abroad. You can’t mention traffic, going to the grocery store, or even f*cking breathe without them going, “OMG that reminded me of when I was in Florence…”  *cue eye roll.* Be sure to follow up every study abroad story with an equally as uneventful story of your own to show them that doing something as boring as washing your hands does not suddenly become interesting just because it happened in a different country. I physically couldn’t care less about how you accidentally used the wrong tense of a word while ordering breakfast one time. I do that all the time in English, and you don’t see me bragging about it.

The One In A Long-Distance Relationship

Chances are at least one of your friends is going to come back with some ridiculous whirlwind international romance they primarily pursued in an effort to live out their Lizzie McGuire Movie fantasy. Now that they’re back in “the States,” they’ll love regaling anyone within earshot with the details of their love story and the hardship that comes with FaceTiming across time zones. Give me a break. You can probably get them to shut up about it (and hopefully just end the whole thing) by asking if their newfound soulmate has any plans to be in the country in the next 6-12 months. Once they realize they have a better chance of making tuition money by selling feet pics than they do of over seeing Paolo again, they’ll come to their senses.

Honestly, your friends are just excited to share their new experiences with you (and also convince you that they definitely never felt any FOMO while they were gone. No, not even once). Give them a week or two to tell as many stories as they want (even if you’ve heard the same one a million f*cking times), and indulge them by asking questions to help get it out of their system. Then you can start giving them sh*t after a few weeks if they’re still talking about how different the water tasted. They’ll get the point.

Images: Atikh Bana / Unsplash

The Betches Study Abroad Guide To Florence

I spent my spring semester junior year studying abroad in Florence, Itay, and let me tell you (as I’m sure you’ve heard from eeeevery single basic bitch you know), it was literally the best experience of my life! 

I know it’s hard to believe every aspect of being abroad was great, but even bad moments didn’t faze me, because at least I was experiencing them in Italy. I was also lucky enough to travel with an amazing group of people who made the experience even better. Obviously, studying abroad is about indulging yourself in, learning about, and adapting to another culture. However, if the people you study abroad with are all douchebags, fake, or unadventurous, you may as well prepare for a bad time. 

During my four months in Florence, I ate my weight in carbs, danced on more elevated surfaces than is socially acceptable, walked more than I have in my entire life, went out almost every night, and still managed to get straight As. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to fit every single club, museum, bar, gelateria, store, and restaurant, on top of traveling to other places, into just one semester. My time in Florence was so incredible, I still preface a disgusting amount of stories with, “when I was abroad…” as though I just got back last week.

For those of you planning to or considering studying abroad in Florence, think of this as your bible. Like I said, I obviously can’t include every establishment and/or attraction in the city, but here’s a compilation of some of my favorite places Firenze has to offer. Prego! (Translation: you’re welcome! Did I mention I studied abroad in Italy once?)


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Are you even studying abroad if you don’t inform everyone you’ve ever met that you’re studying abroad? @rickeythompson

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General Living

While many study abroad programs don’t give you the option of choosing your accommodations for the semester, there are a few things you should expect to be different than how you’re (probably) living at home, especially if you’re from the U.S. 

For starters, when you first arrive in your Italian home, everything looks like it’s been put on a miniature setting. The beds are juuuuust big enough for you to comfortably sleep in, there aren’t any oversized sinks or showers, there’s a bidet in almost every bathroom, washing machines are compact, and dryers in homes are a rarity.

Grocery stores are just that: grocery stores. There’s no Italian equivalent to a Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, or even CVS, where you have access to food, hygiene products, medicine, and even clothing under one roof. If you want food and/or wine and a small selection of hard liquor, you can hit up the closest Conad. I found that having to carry my groceries back to my apartment and not being tempted by other things in the store helped me both stay on budget and not binge.

To dry your clothes, you’ll need to either use a hanging rack or locate a laundromat (which is pretty much your only shot at finding a functioning dryer). Hit up any pharmacy or farmacia (they have a big green plus sign out front) for medicine and hygiene products. Any other miscellaneous needs (and the spot to pay your international phone bill) is a tobacco shop. 

At first this is all a pain in the ass, but it’s a quick adjustment and a refreshingly efficient way to live. Something I found helpful was bringing some of my own supplies from home, since I knew the exact time frame I’d be in Florence. It was easy for me to predict how much of my prescription medicine*, tampons, emergency cold medicine, etc. I’d need for the semester.


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Hailee goes #ABROAD 💁🏼‍♀️💁🏼‍♀️💁🏼‍♀️ Cutting this video down to 1 minute for Insta was heartbreaking so SMASH that link in bio for the full semester…nnnyeah!!! 🇬🇧🇪🇸🇳🇪🇮🇹🇩🇪

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Regarding food, I recommend finding a balance between cooking and eating out. This way, you can take part in the truly life-changing experience of freshly-made Italian food without going completely bankrupt. 

If you’re someone who can’t go anywhere without hot hair styling tools, I suggest purchasing an inexpensive straightener, curling iron, etc. once you’re in Florence. Sure, there are a couple of U.S. brands who claim you won’t have any issue using their products with international adaptors, and that very well may be true! However, almost everyone I know who has tried to use their beloved straightener from home in another country has either blown a fuse or completely ruined the plug and/or overall function of their straightener. If you buy tools with the European plug already built in, there’s no worry about wattage conversions or looking like a sewer rat  having messy hair because you ruined your straightener.

Living in Florence also made me realize how f*cking spoiled and materialistic we are as Americans! Truthfully, it’s not necessary for one person to be sleeping in a king-size bed alone. I mean, if you’ve got it like that, more power to you, but it was really nice to live in a culture where they only use and invest in things they actually need to live comfortably.

*Tip: If you’re taking birth control, antidepressants, or any other kind of prescription meds, be sure to bring enough with you to last your whole trip. It can be difficult for you to access certain medicines overseas.  

Restaurants and Gelaterias

Arguably more important than where you live is what you eat. Out-of-body doesn’t even begin to describe my experience eating at Italian restaurants. I’m a self-proclaimed pasta snob, so needless to say my restaurant recs have at least six pasta dish options. I’ve broken down my favorite spots based on what meal/time is best to eat there. 


Italians aren’t huge on having a big breakfast, rather a coffee and pastry or small sandwich. That being said, there are tons of cafes sprinkled throughout the city, so you’re bound to pass at least one on your way to class. If you’re looking for a breakfast with a bit more sustenance, here are a few places I turned to for a more ~Americanesque~ dining experience. 

Shake Café: Great spot for smoothies, açaí bowls, and pretty much every other health trend you can think of. They also serve eggs any style, breakfast potatoes, and other savory options.

Mama’s Bakery: Cute restaurant with indoor and garden spaces. They sell baked goods and other typical cafe items. On Sundays they sell French toast with fresh fruit, making it my go-to spot for studying on the weekend. 

La Milkeria: With a menu consisting of cafe items, waffles, crepes, pancakes, and gelato, La Milkeria is the perfect place for someone who prefers a sweet breakfast.  

Ditta Artigianale: Check them out if you’re searching for a more ~hipster~ cafe vibe. They serve a variety of cocktails, sweet and savory bakery items, and lattes with sick foam artwork.


The following are either popular study abroad staples or internationally known lunch spots. Considering you’re in Florence to “take classes,” you likely won’t have time for a full sit-down lunch, making these options perfect for a grab-and-go meal.

GustapizzaI was lucky enough to live in Santo Spirito (which is where Gustapizza is), so needless to say I was a regular. You can get a personal pizza prepared right in front of you, and they’ll even bake it into a heart if you ask.


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Il miglior tipo di picnic // The best kind of picnic ✨🍕🍷 📸: @diningwithdev

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Pino’s Sandwiches: Pino’s is a study abroad staple. He has the restaurant decorated with flags from schools across America and is one of the nicest guys in Florence. Pino’s has a selection of paninis as well as pre-made dishes every day. Either option is super affordable, so you have more money to spend on wine.

Los Chicos: If you’re obsessed with Tex-Mex food, Los Chicos will be your go-to. It’s kind of a hole in the wall, but they serve amazing food. I once ordered nachos to go and got a 12×6” tray full of them. Need I say more?

Queen’s Chips Amsterdam: This is one of the most simple yet delicious fast food chains in the city. They serve you fries in a portable cone and smother them in a sauce of your choosing. 

All’Antico Vinaio: If you’ve never heard of All’Antico, it’s a small, world-famous panini shop. It’s so popular they even opened a pop-up in NYC this summer. If you’re trying to get a taste of their fresh sandwiches in Florence, make sure you block out a decent amount of time. You can pretty much always expect the line for All’Antico to stretch down the street. Godspeed. 


If you’ve ever been to a real Italian restaurant (aka not Olive Garden), you know Italians typically have multiple courses for dinner. Aperitivo, antipasto, primo, segundo e contorno, insalata, formaggi e frutta, dolce, and digestivo con caffe. While this may seem overwhelming, Italy (and the majority of Europe for that matter) actually has normally-sized portions, unlike America. Rather than getting a single plate overflowing with food and sides, you’re getting a series of smaller plates spread out to make up a long dinner. 

Another major contrast is that there’s rarely pressure from waitstaff about the length of your meal. This means you won’t break a sweat when they come by and you still don’t know what you want off the menu. There were times when my friends and I were at dinner for literal hours without issue. 

Spoiler alert for those of you who live and die for dishes like penne alla vodka and chicken parm: those aren’t “real” Italian dishes. That means they’re nearly impossible to find in Florence. RIP.

Ristorante Trattoria Dante: Depending on the night, Dante’s has a nice and lovely waitstaff, which is a nice compliment to the dimly-lit atmosphere. More importantly, they have a deal for students for unlimited wine with the purchase of a meal. You can thank me later.

Osteria del Gato e la Volpe: A great place if you want to indulge in a family-style meal. Moderate space and delicious food. 

Osteria Santo Spirito: As I mentioned, I lived in Santo Spirito, so this osteria was only four minutes from my apartment. The restaurant itself was relatively small, but very colorful and has outdoor seating year-round. I recommend the fresh spaghetti with pomodoro (tomato) or their famous truffle gnocchi.


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Florence has my heart💘

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Trattoria Zá Zá: They are known for their freshly made pasta (made right in the restaurant), and it is TO DIE FOR. Seriously, this was easily one of the best dinners I had. My friend and I split a meal, and they brought us the skillet in which they made our dish right to the table so we could self-serve. The restaurant itself is really popular, so definitely make a reservation. 

Trattoria 4 Leoni: This restaurant is located more on the outskirts of the city center, making it a cute and quiet option. They serve pear ravioli, which I didn’t love, but it may just be an acquired taste.

La Spada: One of the only restaurants with a little section for takeout. The waitstaff was super friendly and they had a good (discounted) deal for five-course dinners for large parties.  

To be on the safe side, I would call to make a reservation ahead of time for all of these places. It saved me potential hours of hanger and waiting.


No explanation necessary. I recommend going to gelaterias where there aren’t highly-stacked mounds of gelato, because it may not be fresh.


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Best gelato in Florence 😛

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Gelateria la CarraiaAka the best gelato in Florence. I found their gelato was the most flavorful and extremely affordable. Its location along the Arno River makes for beautiful views while you eat.

Gelateria dei Neri: Also good gelato, buuuut it’s no la Carraia. If you’ve been to Florence and think I’m psycho for this stance, please just put the pitchforks away. Gelato’s a peaceful dessert.  


Another exciting part about studying abroad in Europe (for those of you who drink) is that the legal drinking age is 18! You can leave your fake ID at home and hit up as many local bars as you want. The list below is a miniscule amount, but these bars were my regular spots throughout the semester. For the most part, each bar carries a totally different vibe. However, they’re all great for either a chill night out or a pregame spot before the club.


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The only thing I don’t overthink is if I need a drink (@sarafcarter)

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Red Garter: One word: karaoke. There’s a large back room solely dedicated t0 karaoke and it’s a riot. The first room in the bar is a small, club-like dance and bar area, and on the side is a room set up as a sports bar. They have the best wings in the city and often have discounted deals for people to come eat, drink, and watch popular American sporting events.

Uncle Jimmy’s: For €1, you can purchase a wristband which gets you a free shot every time you buy a drink. It’s bottom-shelf liquor, of course, but it’s a study abroad student’s dream! If you’re from the East Coast and have ever gone to Brother Jimmy’s, the vibe here is exactly like that, only somehow better…because it’s Italian.

The Lion’s Fountain: The “Brother” bar to Uncle Jimmy’s. Has the same wristband deal. Additionally, for the bold and (likely) blacked out, if you flash the bartender for 10 seconds, your drink is free. Otherwise, it’s the same vibe as Uncle Jimmy’s. 

The Michael Collins Pub: They basically sell drinks in tall containers that you’d typically get a to-go order of soup in. Two levels with live music in the basement. Overall chill vibe in an Irish pub setting.  

Beer House Club: You can find people here pretty much all day and night. They have a variety of meal options and a massive selection of beer on tap. Both the indoor and patio area are full of tables and chairs, so even though they play hip hop/dance/club music at night, there isn’t much space to move.


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Do you believe that Beer is the best drink in the world!? • • • #beer #food #friends #birra #artigianale #craft #pilsner #Florence #Italy #Firenze #tanknova #craftbeer #pasta #yummy #tasty #fresh #delicious #instafood #firenzebynight #wheretodrinkinflorence #wheretodrinkinitaly #drink #佛罗伦萨 #calcio #beerhouseclub

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Kikuya English Pub: Full disclosure, I don’t remember too much about this bar other than the fact that my friend Hannah and I got fake engaged here. As the name of the bar implies, it’s an English pub and the inside is very dark and decorated with fairy lights everywhere. Their drinks were both really delicious and strong. Win win! 

I’Margaritatio Cantina Messicana – Cocktail Bar: Great happy hour with the best and biggest frozen margaritas I’ve ever had. It’s a small, underground place that projects music videos on mute that do not sync up with the songs they’re playing on the speakers. Yeah, idk. 

Shot Cafe: TBH, there wasn’t anything particularly spectacular about Shot Cafe. They served pitchers of drinks with 3-foot straws, which was more Instagrammable than functional. Otherwise, I was usually only here for five minutes max to buy a shot so I could get a stamp for free cover at the club.

Green Street Bar: This bar definitely has more of a cafe vibe. It’s not that big of a space and it’s open all day serving coffee and other cafe items and turns into a bar in the evening. The bartenders were all really cool and friendly, but this was another free stamp location for me.


While dealing with promoters is a serious pain in the ass, they were truly my saving grace in Florence. It can be super sketchy to interact with them initially (you absolutely need to make sure they’re legit first), but after a while you’ll have a go-to guy for the best deals. 

My promoter always knew which bars were giving out stamps for free entry into the club, got us discounts on event and concert tickets, and because I’d become such a frequent flyer at the club(s), my friends and I never waited in line (*cue eye roll,* but whatever it’s true). 

Several clubs have either a reduced or completely free cover charge for study abroad students. Just bring your student ID (or school name card) from the school you’re studying abroad at, not from your actual four-year college/university. As with everything listed above, this is just a handful of the club options in Florence. However, if you like a playlist of both remixes and actual songs with lyrics, dancing on elevated surfaces, and sneaking into VIP, I guarantee you’ll have an amazing time.

YAB: YAB is like the club equivalent to a frat basement. Aside from the fact that it’s literally underground, it’s full of skeezy men and poorly ventilated, yet I keep going back. In all seriousness, YAB is a lot of fun and I was dropping it low there every Monday. Hoooweverrrr, you need to be ESPECIALLY conscious of your belongings. Since everyone is usually packed like sardines, it’s a pickpocket’s paradise. 


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BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE 🙌 #yab_firenze #yab #crowd #soldout #yabsmoove #smoove #monday #lastmonday #crowded #gente #folla #dance #music #musica #discoteca #disco #wow #omg #lights #neonlights #edc #hiphop #rnb #housemusic #handsup #nottomiss #joinus #enjoy #yellow #purple @damianoalessandriphotographer

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Space Club Firenze: there isn’t enough space on this website for me to gush about Space. This place is a one-stop shop. On the lower level (before the night really pops off), they have karaoke, a small bar, and lounge areas. On the upper level, there’s a massive dance floor, VIP area, bar, and upper level where strippers/dancers would randomly appear throughout the night. Saying I thrived here doesn’t even do my experience justice. I was on a new level any time I set foot in Space. There was a different theme and decor most nights, and sometimes they gave away free stuff, which made it even more fun. 

Blue Velvet: The bouncers at Blue velvet were the rudest I came across the whole semester. They had a serious sense of entitlement just because they controlled who could and couldn’t get into the club. The decor of the club was a little 50 Shades of Grey. Velvet curtains and booths everywhere and the layout itself was awkward. On the bright side, music was decent and there was good airflow, which can be hard to come by in clubs. 

Bamboo Lounge & Club: Bamboo is like the club you choose to go to when all the other ones are at capacity. It’s an ok amount of fun (obviously depending on who you go with) because most people stand around and drink rather than dance. The front half is a standard bar area where you’re bound to find your standard Italian f*ckboys.  

Sights, Gardens, Museums, and Churches

If the beautiful architecture of Florence isn’t enough for you, the city is also home to some of the most beautiful attractions I’ve experienced to date. Thankfully, all of you broke betches out there like me won’t have to worry about sacrificing an experience because you can’t afford it! None of the museums/gardens are too expensive, and your program will probably have some excursions included in the lesson plan.

Many of the churches are free to enter, and some of the statues are outside in the varying piazzas (squares), so it’s super convenient to take a day to walk around and see what you come across. Every piazza can be thought of like a “neighborhood” of Florence, and there’s usually a church which the piazza is named after. I mainly spent time in the below piazzas, museums, and gardens.


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Can’t believe today marks my official 1 month anniversary living in one of the most incredible places in the world! New photos and blog post (link in bio) about my first night exploring my new home 🇮🇹 Ti amo Firenze ❤️ @thebutterflytravels

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Piazalle Michelangelo: Reaching Piazalle Michelangelo can be a trek, but the view overseeing the city is worth it. This is the perfect place to bring a wine and cheese plate or small dinner and catch the sunset with your friends.

Palazzo Vecchio: This is the city hall of Florence, located in Piazza della Signoria. You can purchase tickets to check out the inside of the hall, but the piazza is one that houses many outdoor statues, so it’s always flooded with tourists.

Uffizi Gallery: Florence’s most famous art gallery. It’s located close to Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria and is full of rooms and rooms of famous portraits, statues, and great architecture.

Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace): This is a Renaissance palace that is beyond gaudy. You have a ton of different options on what you can tour (just the entrance, the gallery, the Boboli Gardens, etc.). Depending on what you’re interested in seeing, this stop alone can take up hours of your day.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and il Duomo: This is the cathedral the Duomo is attached to. If you’re not claustrophobic and don’t have a fear of heights, you can pay to climb the tower and get a sick view of the city.


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Bardini Gardens: These gardens aren’t as big as the Boboli gardens, but still a quaint spot. My favorite part is the lavender path, where the flowers are interwoven into a metal arch structure. You can also find great city views here. It’s all about the gram after all, right? I mean, how else will people know you’re abroad?

Gucci Museum: All the expensive clothes and items you’ll never be able to afford conveniently displayed in one place!

Galleria dell’Academia: Statue of David lives here.There are other beautiful paintings and sculptures as well, but David is enormous and takes the cake. I ate sh*t and busted my knee on the way to see the statue of David but was so determined, I still waited an hour to get into the gallery. If you’re looking to go here on the weekend, I would go as early as possible to beat the crowd.

Piazza della Repubblica: One of the most populated/the main square of the city. If you’ve ever seen photos or videos of street performers and a merry-go-round in Florence, this is it. It’s a great landmark to remember to help you navigate day-to-day. There are also soooo many good shopping spots and restaurants around this piazza, so it’s easy to spend a full afternoon here.

Giardini di Boboli (Boboli Gardens): If you go to Florence in the Spring or Summer you cannot skip going here. The grounds are enormous and I spent hours exploring every time I went there. There are miles of greenery, flowers, open fields, fountains, sculptures, and killer views of both the city and surrounding areas.


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2 ❤️

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Ponte Vecchio: one of the bridges (ponte = bridge) along the Arno. Home to a lot of cute booths and small shops. MAJOR tourist attraction, so I’d try to go during off-peak hours (you’ll know what I mean when you get there) to avoid the rush.

Santa Maria Novella: Another architecturally gorgeous church in the city and a great landmark to help you navigate toward the bus and train station. It’s relatively small by comparison to some of the other churches in the city,

Santa Croce & Piazza Santa Croce: You guessed it, this is another church in Florence and yes, it’s gorgeous. The square in front of the church is huge, making it a popular location for vendors, and Calcio Fiorentino a.k.a. historic soccer.

Piazza Santo Spirito: My home away from home. Santo Spirito is honestly an amazing location to live. It’s located directly on the opposite side of the Arno from all the major tourist attractions, so at night you can pretty much always count on it being quiet. It’s home to Basilica di Santo Spirito, Gustapizza, Mama’s Bakery, Osteria Santo Spirito, and cute farmers markets and pop-up vendors every weekend.


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I made a lot of wrong choices

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Flying: Direct flights to and from Florence are expensive AF. To cut costs, I recommend taking a shuttle to a neighboring city,  like Pisa. Ryanair is the European equivalent to Spirit Airlines, and even though your neck will be broken after the flight, a €30 round-trip flight to the U.K. is worth it.

Trains: Buying train tickets once you’re onboard is NOT a thing in Flo, so be sure to order online ahead of time or give yourself a cushion to purchase them at the station.

Buses: I did the majority of my external European trips through a travel/tourism company, which relied on buses to trek us from country to country. While the travel time will be three times as long as a flight, bus tickets are way cheaper. Buses are also a great option for traveling to surrounding cities like Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano.

Taxis (because Uber’s nonexistent): There’s no such thing as hailing a taxi on the streets of Florence, and unfortunately the same is true for Uber. If you want and/or need a taxi, you have to call ahead of time and schedule a pickup/drop-off. However, taxis are like €15 for a seven-minute ride, so it’s really not worth it. Get off your ass and walk. 


TBH I’ve never been into “exercising,” and wasn’t going to spend my precious moments abroad in a gym or fitness studio. As I said earlier, considering the cost of taxis and nonexistent ride share apps (combined with the fact that my Italian wasn’t nearly fluent enough to get me out of a crisis) I relied on walking to get me everywhere. Whether I was walking to class, going to the club, or walking to the opposite side of the city for a museum visit, I averaged well over the recommended 10,000 steps a day, which kept me in shape. 

However, if you are a #fitbitch, there are gyms around the city (as well as yoga and other fitness studios) you can become a short-term member at to assure you still have access to your workout routine. 

Unfortunately, as I’ve said many times, I can’t list eveeeery single thing to do in Florence. In this case, however, that’s not a terrible thing. When you’re abroad in Europe, you’re likely going to divide your time between your “host” country and many of the other surrounding countries. I visited to nine in total during the semester, and still felt like I spent ample time home in Firenze. The best of both worlds!

If done right, studying abroad in Florence can be the best time of your life. Try your hardest to get yourself comfortable with getting lost (in a non-dangerous way) so you can discover some new sh*t. Bring your phone with you as a fail-safe, but try and get from one place to another relying strictly on your memory. You’ll be surprised how familiar you actually are with the city and are bound to find some hidden gems, because you’re not zoned in to your screen. 

Whether you’re a first-time Flo explorer or a seasoned professional, remember to be conscious of yourself, your surroundings, and your sh*t at all times. Florence is one of the WORST cities in the world for pick-pocketing, and I can attest to that. All but four of my friends got their wallets, phones, or both stolen (two of them in less than 24-hours after landing in Florence), so seriously, beware and be smart. 

Otherwise, buona fortuna e fai un buon viaggio (good luck and have a great trip)!

Images: Heidi Kaden / Unsplash; Giphy (2); offcampus (2), bennydrama7, gustapizzafirenze, abbroaadeaatz, eatinggwithemma, beerhousefirenze, yabfirenze, rinniesaus, emilycarrello, isabelwilkinson, fatcarriebradshaw / Instagram

What I Wish I Knew Before Packing For Study Abroad

Whoever came up with the idea of studying abroad was a f*cking genius. Seriously, there are endless benefits to a semester in a foreign country. You get to take dope Insta pics, put a minimal amount of effort into classes, travel around with your friends, and like, grow as a person and experience a new culture or whatever, I guess…and then talk about it to anyone in a five-mile radius for the next decade.

The hardest thing about studying abroad is packing for it. Naturally, I asked every person I know that has ever gone abroad for a packing list. They all told me to pack light, and since I really didn’t like that advice, I decided it didn’t apply to me.


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I’ve had to google “what time is it in toronto” multiple times today just to post this at a decent hour. #whereami #carmensandiego #pizzaexpress

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I’ve always been prone to overpacking, but this time I went tooootally overboard. I thought I was cheating the system with Pinterest packing hacks, space bags, and carry-ons. I was literally so confident in my packing that I didn’t even weigh my bags before going to the airport. As I’m sure you can guess, I tragically overestimated my skills and let me just tell you, if you’re ever thinking of blindly packing for a long trip without weighing your bags first…DON’T.

When I rolled up to JFK to check into my flight, I was informed that one of my bags was thirty pounds overweight. I’m not even being dramatic. Literally. Thirty. F*cking. Pounds. 

Soooo, if you don’t want to have to pay an additional $200 just to get your bags on the plane, I suggest you follow my advice. 

1. Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are perfect for keeping track of what you pack and staying organized. Beyond that, when you get to your temporary home, you’ll quickly realize that you will have about as much space for storage as you did to pack. Packing cubes are perfect for keeping your sh*t organized, providing free storage, and even better for maximizing the small amount of space you’ll have for weekend trips. 

2. Space Bags DO NOT Work

First of all, space bags are kind of a scam. I mean, they’re great for storing all of the sorority shirts you’ll never wear, but they’re rarely useful for packing. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, space bags are vacuum-sealed bags meant to decrease the amount of space your clothes take up. By using space bags, I visually tricked myself into thinking I was packing less than I was, causing my suitcase to weigh more than a fifth-grader. 

3. Check The Size Of Your Carry-On

The scariest thing about October is being haunted by study abroad kids at Octoberfest who post on insta with the caption “Prost” or “omg I still don’t like beer.” Like I get it Becky wear your dirndl and chug a stein and talk about how study abroad changed your life

— zuzu (@khan_zuzu) October 7, 2019

If you’re smart, you’ll bring a rolling carry-on with you as extra packing space (and as your weekend trip bag). Sadly, the same black carry-on that your dad has been using every business trip for the last twenty years probably won’t cut it. If you don’t want to pay an additional fee, wait for checked baggage, and run the risk of a crappy budget airline losing your bag, it’s worth investing in a new one ahead of time. I recommend looking for ones with the word “continental” in the bag title/description. 

4. Buy A Converter…Or Three 

Because I’m like, super good at planning ahead, I figured that I’d be able to buy a converter once I got abroad. Obviously (this seems to be a reoccurring theme) my logic was flawed. It’s not like British people are buying converters that make it possible to plug in things from the US, so I wasn’t able to just go to a corner store and get a US to UK converter. Amazon has great ones that allow you to plug in multiple things at a time and work with several different outlet types. Highly recommend. 

Pro Tip: If you have a Mac, buy Apple-made converters for your charger. I have the worst luck, and my computer reacted really poorly to the change in voltage, causing the battery to break and forcing me to find an Apple store and go weeks without a functioning laptop.

5. Bring More Than One Portable Charger 

When you spend all day obsessively checking to see who’s watched your ~super cultured~ Insta story of really ~authentic~ Italian gelato, your phone battery dies fast. It’ll die even quicker when you’re taking the Euro Rail to Amsterdam. Being in a foreign country with no phone is a straight-up bad idea, especially when you don’t speak the language. Although it can be a “learning experience” to be disconnected for the day, you don’t want to find yourself in a bad situation where you’re unable to contact someone. Plan ahead, please.    

6. Plan Your Budget Ahead Of Time

me: ya of course i’ll pay a $8 delivery fee

also me: 35¢ for potato? no no no no no no no no

— jonny sun (@jonnysun) January 8, 2017

Everyone’s financial situation is different, and if your parents are funding your abroad experience, you’re one lucky betch. However, many people will find themselves struggling to stay to a strict budget when they study abroad. Personally, I had a really hard time managing my money when I first got abroad. What can I say—covers for clubs are super expensive! 

Definitely have an explicit conversation with your parents (or whoever may be contributing to your experience) about who is paying for what.

7. Jackets Will Be Your Best Friend

One word: layering. As if we weren’t already in a climate crisis, the biggest issue I’ve had abroad is that it’s cold outside, hot in your classroom, and straight-up hellish on public transportation. Now, this obviously mainly applies for those of us studying in famously cold or rainy places, like the UK, or those going abroad during the autumn and winter months. I’m a big fan of the thick jacket, cute sweater, and tank combos for those mid-autumn days where you’ll experience four seasons in 45 minutes. 

8. You Don’t Need Stilettos

Heels are impractical, uncomfortable, and a total waste of space. This was the one piece of advice I followed, mostly because my mom took my heels out of my bag before I left, but it still counts. Instead, you should pack lots of cute sneakers, a few pairs of booties that you can walk around in, and one pair of heeled booties for going out. The one exception I’ve heard to this rule is if you’re studying in Paris. Some of the clubs there are bougie as f*ck strict with dress code, so you will need to dress to impress.

Pro tip: Bring cheap flip flops as shower shoes and/or to wear around the apartment, for all you know wherever you end up living could be more disgusting than your freshman dorm’s communal bathroom.

9. Pack Lots Of Sweaters And Tops

You can wear the same pair of jeans (or leggings) a million times without anyone noticing (and before they get that “it’s time to wash me” sag in them), but the same doesn’t go for tops. Students in Europe somehow haven’t gotten on the wearing-leggings-to-class bandwagon, so plan on dressing chic to class. Worst case scenario, you’ll probably be doing a lot of shopping, so you can always stock up once you’ve arrived.

10. It *Is* Possible to Have Too Many Black Crop Tops 


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Today I wore a white crop top… you know what that is? Growth.

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When you’re packing, you’ll probably come across the impossible dilemma: limited space and unlimited crop tops. Trust me, I get it. I also know the majority of your nights abroad will be spent going out. However, black crop tops are reusable! Hopefully, your friends will be cool and like to share, so you’ll have even more options. Don’t overpack clothes you’d wear to a frat, they’ll make you look trashy in the eyes of chic Europeans. Above all else, leave your frat shoes behind.

11. Leave Your Hot Tools At Home

Listen, more than anyone, I understand the deep relationship a girl has to her heat-styling tools. I never go anywhere without at least my flatiron. But, trust me on this one—do not pack any expensive hot tools. Due to the weird-ass voltage conversion, my blowdryer literally melted on day one, ending the longest relationship I’ve ever had. Instead of bringing your favorite products (and risking ruining them), buy cheap ones there. 

12. Deal With Prescriptions Ahead Of Time 

It can be really hard to get the prescription meds you need for three months at a time. One of my friends ended up having a screaming match with her insurance company, and it took mine like, a few weeks to figure out how to get me three months worth of my prescription at once. Make sure you leave plenty of time for anything that could potentially go wrong with this process.

Pro tip: Getting stuff like Dayquil and Sudafed is little different in Europe. Bring the basics just in case you can’t get meds when you inevitably come down with a cold. 

13. Bring Your Own Tampons

Every. Single. Time. I have tried to buy tampons, they’ve ended up not having applicators. I know it’s better for the environment, but this is an important lesson. You should definitely bring your own supply unless you want to end up standing in a public bathroom, staring at an applicator-less tampon like it’s from Mars.

14. Laundry Bags Aren’t Just for Dorm Rooms 

Unless you’re gross and want to keep your clothes on the floor of whatever dorm/apartment you’re living in, bring one of those inexpensive cloth laundry bags with you. It’s also not a given that your living space will come with a washer, and it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll have a dryer. Bringing a laundry bag both helps you keep track of your dirty clothes and will be a lifesaver if you need to transport them to a laundromat. Do your research and plan accordingly.  

I’ve only been abroad for six weeks, so it’s not like I’m a total pro, but I learned the hard way that any advice is worth considering. It’s worth saying, though, that every city is different. I’m spending the semester in London living my best Caroline Calloway life, and I have friends in Paris, Rome, and Madrid. Like, all of us needed to bring different things, but the basics are pretty much the same. Yeah, packing sucks, but the rest of abroad is pretty lit. Once you get past the fact that you have to actually look cute most days and start exploring your new city, it’s guaranteed that abroad will be the transformative experience that everyone says it is.

Images: Ross Sneddon / Unsplash; sarafcarter, lexniko / Instagram; jonnysun / Twitter

What Your Summer Vacation Spot Says About You

We’re officially half-way through summer and if you haven’t taken at least one vacation by now, who even are you? Let’s just talk about how we have, like, 14 weeks until there’s fucking snow on the ground again, so you best be making the most out of your insta-while-wearing-a-bikini opportunities. That being said, if you’re planning a trip or just want to know what your vacation choices say about your personality, this gem is for you.


First of all, ew. Did you get brainwashed by your granola boyfriend into thinking camping was a good idea? Vacations are for relaxing and also having wifi/cell phone service. You’re really cutting into Snapchat opportunities to brag about your trip if you don’t have reception. TBH, if you chose to use your vacation days to rough it and get closer to nature, we can already tell a few things about you: 1) you have pictures on instagram being topless in nature, probably showing the Grand Tetons your little Tetons (they’re not impressed, btw.) 2) You pretend you’re not judgmental, but you really judge everyone who doesn’t have wet dreams about hidden mountain hot springs. 3) Your water bottle is attached to a carabiner. Is that spot on or is that spot on?

A Public Beach

You’re basic and you dgaf about it. I mean, certain things are popular for a reason. You’re not too proud to rough it with the rest of the world. Like, sure, there are probably fat dudes in speedos and kids around, but that won’t kill your vibe. You probably have an affinity for tequila shots and hooking up with dudes in the summer you wouldn’t even look twice at when you’re back to your real life. You’ll definitely post a #TBT when you get home and the caption will say “I need a vacation from my vacation”. We get it, Julie, you’re hungover.

Somewhere Exclusive

Let’s just group the Hamptons Betches together. (Side note: the Hamptons can be exclusive, but talk to me when you spend a weekend on Fishers Island.) You like that #LushLife. You’re a “see and be seen” kind of girl and the Jersey Shore just does not do it for you. You prefer events that are invitation only, and if you can’t name-drop after a vacation, you don’t see a point. You probably own at least one Lilly Pulitzer dress and your dusted off the Jack Rodgers for the first time this year so you could wear them to the beach. You pretend to be casual, but your idea of casual is a round of golf followed by a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Your family probably winters in Sun Valley or Park City.

Somewhere International

The betch who chooses an international vacation could really be one of two types of people. She’s either the kind of girl who wants to be somewhere exclusive, but, like, on steroids. Or, she’s the girl who spends the summer abroad to “expand her horizons.” If you fall in to the latter category, you’re definitely not a opposed to a fling with a creepy mysterious Italian dude. When you contract HPV from him, it’ll be like a fun European souvenir you’ll have for the rest of your life. When you get back, you’ll annoy all your friends with how you pronounce “Barthelona”. It’ll take a good four months before anyone can stand to be around you again. Your new, worldly-yet-pretentious attitude will be palpable. 

A Charity Trip

Ok so this isn’t necessarily a “spot” but whether you’re painting an elementary school in the scary part of a major U.S. city or solving the world’s problems in a developing nation, you fall into the same category of betch. Sure, what you’re doing is super commendable and you’re really shining a light on the selfishness of the rest of us assholes. You’re probably a bit of a nice girl. Your philanthropy is definitely the most unique thing about you; not that there’s anything wrong with that. You probably can’t sit with us just because we’ll feel guilty about ourselves when you start to talk about how you actually benefited the lives of other. Pass on having a conversation with anyone who makes me feel remotely spoiled.

A Staycation

OK, just admit it, you’re poor. Hey, you might not be poor forever, but you’re probably lacking major cash flow if you’re “choosing” to stay home when you could be, um, not home. Sure, getting out and exploring your own city can be cool, but we just call that living somewhere. Like, going out to eat and going to events is part of life and not a break from it. i.e. the whole point of a vacation. You can’t really brag to your coworkers about a place that they’ve literally all been. If you’re taking days off just to stay home, maybe resist bragging about it. 

European Parliament Just Make It Harder For Americans To Take A Eurotrip

Say goodbye to all those drunken plans for spontaneous Euro tours, because the European Parliament just voted to end visa-free travel around the EU for Americans. Basically, we’re no longer welcome to sit at the lunch table across the pond, and given America’s rapid descent into nationalist hell, who can blame them?

In the past, travelers from the U.S. could traipse around the EU all they wanted without a visa. Last week, though, Parliament voted to end the agreement, and we only have ourselves—well, our shitty ambassadors—to blame. In theory, visa-free travel was supposed to go both ways, but the good ole US of A has refused to reciprocate for citizens from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania, even though they’re part of the EU.


The European Commission found out about all this nonsense three years ago, and for some reason, it’s taken until now for anyone to do something about it. Maybe because they couldn’t believe the U.S. would be such a spectacularly shitty friend? Maybe because they didn’t have to worry about a massive influx of Americans coming in without a visa for indeterminate amounts of time under President Obama?


Finally, though, Parliament decided to temporarily reimpose visa requirements for American citizens because what the hell, America? Canada and Australia were also doing the same thing, but they’re in the process of lifting their visa requirements now that they’ve been called out.

The good news is that the vote isn’t binding; Parliament is basically just peer-pressuring the European Commission into doing something about the whole situation. So your spring break plans aren’t totally fucked yet, but you might want to get your ass to Paris and take that tacky Eiffel Tower photo—or, IDK, book a one-way ticket to Italy and “forget” to buy a return trip—ASAP.