Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Over. The. Top. That’s the best way to describe Kevin Kwan’s novel, Crazy Rich Asians. When I brought this one home from the library, the title was met by raised eyebrows from my family members. And no, the title is not some cutesy inside joke you’ll get once you read the book – it’s pretty literal.


The novel went perfectly with my traveling color scheme, too 😉

The characters in Kwan’s novel are the antithesis of minimalists. The story follows a seemingly never-ending family tree that has three main branches: the Youngs, the T’Siens and the Shangs. When Nick Young decides to bring his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend, Rachel Chu, home to Singapore with him for the summer, chaos ensues.

You won’t get bored reading this one, as the perspective changes from character to character. You’ll laugh, gasp, and cringe at the riches and rituals that Rachel is thrown into. You’ll learn about all the idiosyncrasies of the family and their culture right alongside her.

I’m a little late on the Kevin Kwan train, as the novel became a bestseller back in 2013. Better late than never, though. It is certainly a colorful read! I can’t wait to read the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, next.

Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

Colorfully Yours,


I’m a Barbie Girl

Two huge Barbie-centric things happened this week. So yes, you could say it’s a Barbie world.

First, 19-year-old model Barbie Ferreira has been cast as the newest face of Aerie. Why is this a big deal, you ask? Because Ferreira has – wait for it – curves! I know, crazy, right? Ha. While it’s frightening that casting anything but a size 0 model is still news in this day and age, it really is a big step for a brand like Aerie.

The brand left behind photo retouching in 2014 for their #AerieREAL campaign, in an attempt to celebrate the details of women’s bodies that have long since been referred to as ‘imperfections.’ As awesome as that is, the ads still featured the more ‘typical’ magazine body type.

Now, Aerie is taking another step forward in changing the game by featuring Barbie, who is referred to in the industry as a “curve model.”

Take a look at this teaser video the brand released. You’ll notice that Ferreira’s body even moves – gasp! It’s so refreshing to see a girl that so many of us can relate to rocking her swimsuit with full confidence – exactly as she (and we all) should.

I did my usual Instagram stalking on her (@barbienox) and fell even more in love. Beyond being absolutely gorgeous, Barbie is cheeky and sarcastic and isn’t afraid of a bold fashion statement. Sound familiar? 😉

As for the second piece of Barbie news, the infamous Mattel doll has been released in three new body types: curvy, petite, and tall.

The toy manufacturer has been under fire for years and years over the classic doll’s unrealistic appearance: caucasian with bright blonde hair, huge boobs and a barely-there waist. Now, the doll will be available in different sizes in addition to the variety of skin tones and hair types that Mattel had already released.


Some people are upset because they think the curvy Barbie is still too small, but I think it’s important to recognize the most drastic change that the Mattel doll has undergone in over fifty years.

Is there still a long way to go in terms of representing different body types in the media and popular culture? Absolutely. But let’s praise the change we are finally seeing. This is only the beginning of great things to come. All we can hope for is that one day, our daughters and sons will laugh at the fact that this was ever even a conversation.

One small step for womankind, one giant leap for Barbie.

Colorfully Yours,


Love for Humanity

Last week, I visited one of my favorite hidden gems: Humanity Boutique in Lowell. My friend (and, you’ll notice, occasional photographer) Katie grew up in the next town over, so she knew about the cute shop long before I did. She brought me with her to scope it out one day, and I immediately loved the owner, Ani.

Ani is an adorable, welcoming presence with the perfect balance of kindness and quirk. She has worked tirelessly over the years to make her dream of owning her own store come true, and she never hesitates to offer words of encouragement for those following their own.

“I am inspired by the beauty of everyday life, places I travel, and people I meet. [I choose] style over fashion. I love celebrating womanhood and our own individuality. Being able to help others build confidence and be comfortable in their own skin is why Humanity Boutique exists. This is why I exist; I do what I love and I love what I do.” – AV

After months of struggling to get our schedules to match up, Ani and I finally got together at Humanity to play dress up! She was my photographer for the afternoon while I modeled some of my favorite merchandise in the store. Needless to say, it was my dream afternoon. At one point I said, “I wish I could do this every day.” Ani replied, “Don’t you?” Good point, Ani!

After managing the store since 2012 and taking ownership of the boutique in May 2014, Ani gave the store a facelift last spring. She added so many unique touches in every nook and cranny – there’s always a different detail to notice! Plus, Humanity Boutique has some great initials! 😉 In the photos above, you can see some of my favorite sections of the store – including the plush dressing room area where your fashion wing-woman can wait for you and give her opinions. Or, you can grab a seat and chat it up with Ani herself, who is always eager to learn about every new customer. By the end of your visit, you’ll have a new friend – and will probably end up with a new contact in your phone!






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Thank you to Ani for letting me play dress up with all of these fabulous clothes. They are all available at Humanity on Merrimack Street in Lowell – and they are all affordable! Yes, even that amazing red bag is for sale. (The shoes are my own though. Back off.)

Next time you need a cute outfit on a budget, want to get out of your usual shopping routine, or just want to gab with an inspiring fashionista, head into Humanity – and tell Ani I sent you! ❤

For more photos from our fun shoot, follow Humanity (@humanitystyle) and visit!

Colorfully Yours,


My Weekend in AZ: A Novel

This past weekend, I flew across the country to visit my best friend, Rachel. If you read my study abroad post, you’ll know that she was one of my randomly assigned roommates during my semester in Barcelona. I use the word “random” loosely, because not one ounce of me believes it really was.

Anyway, enough of the friendship sap. I was super excited not only to see Rachel but also to see Arizona – I had never been! It is certainly unlike any other place I’ve traveled to. Rachel made fun of me for getting excited about seeing so many cacti. But hey, it’s the little things, right?


Patio at The Henry. Couldn’t clear out the patio to take an ideal picture, unfortunately

On our first full day, we ate at The Henry in Phoenix. It was such a cool restaurant – everything from the decor to the hostess made you feel like a chic VIP. I was so excited to eat outside on the gorgeous patio – a meal outside in January?! The funniest part was that they had heat lamps on all over the patio – it was in the 60’s. But I’m still a cold weather wimp, so I was down with it after my initial chuckle. I had an amazing kale salad and some brie toast. Which fueled me up for part two of our day…

Nordstrom Last Chance. I actually hadn’t heard of this until I started researching AZ right before I got there. The store is the final home for returned and overstocked merchandise from Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. We’re talking dirt cheap – and I’m very frugal! It may sound silly that this was my first event when I had flown six hours across the country, but this is me we’re talking about. Rachel tried to prepare me for the mayhem on our way, but this is one of those things you have to experience to fully understand. Within three minutes of being in the store I told her I wished I had taken a Xanax.


That front bag is all shoes

This was a random Friday afternoon, yet I could barely navigate around without bumping into other shoppers. Grown women were sitting in the middle of the aisles to hoard merchandise and try on shoes. Rachel had to spend several minutes maneuvering her (ok, my) cart around a woman that refused to get up. She lugged around that cart the whole time like a pro while I narrated the experience and how overwhelmed I was. Now that is friendship.

I wasn’t quite as successful with the clothes and accessories as I had been with the shoes. If getting a cheap purse requires me to arm wrestle middle-aged women while riffling through tiny baskets surrounded by people, I think I’m good with full price. Ok, at least mid-price. The clothing was much less cutthroat, but there wasn’t a lot of it in the most common sizes, of course.

The dressing room line was very long, but we eventually made our way to the front. I assumed we would be guided into a room, but the attendant was offering space in the “open dressing room.” Rachel, bold as always, went right in, but the mere idea of stripping down in a large mirror surrounded by a bunch of strangers was enough to make me wait. Until time kept going by… and Rachel came out… and I was still waiting for a private room. She convinced me that it wasn’t so bad, so I put my big girl pants on – or should I say took them off – and stepped in there. Guess what? I made a dressing room friend in there! She gave me some brutal honesty when it came time to try on this ethereal Free People dress. I wanted to love it, but I wasn’t pulling it off. I was tempted to buy it anyway because of the price, but new-dressing-room-friend knocked some sense into me.

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Topshop wedges for $10. They deserved a good home

Then came time to be those annoying people sitting on the floor mulling over our options. At least we chose a corner out of the way. I had somehow acquired five pairs of shoes. Mostly wedges, aka the biggest space-taker-uppers. My suitcase was basically full on the way, so I was freaking out about how I was going to fit them. But they were such good deals! Rachel convinced me that this was my last chance (ha, get it?) to get these kind of deals. So yes, I bought all five. Plus two pairs of jeans and a dress. Sue me, ok?

Since I know my parents are currently reading this and about to dial me up on the phone to lecture me about my shopaholic habits, I will reveal the astounding total of all of these items: $114.00! Ok, and a decent amount of tax, but you can’t nickel-and-dime a once in a lifetime opportunity, people.

(Spoiler alert: Rachel and I dedicated a chunk of my last day to rearranging my suitcase to try and fit the new shoes… plus the five pairs I had brought with me in the first place. Yes, ten pairs of shoes for four days. Whatever. Anyway, we fit almost all of them in! Then she came in clutch with a huge Lululemon bag that she was going to throw out anyway. The remaining wedges went in there and I took that as my carry-on. Take that, air travel!)

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Heaven is for sure filled with pancake flights

Now that I’ve dedicated seven paragraphs of this post to Last Chance, I’ll move on. That evening, we went to a cool indoor/outdoor bar called Wasted Grain. Even though there were lots of cute Arizona boys, I told Rachel I hoped no males approached the table. Hi, I’m Haley, and I’m as antisocial as it gets. Apparently my detached vibes didn’t work that well, though, because one of her coworkers tried to buy me a drink. I never accept drinks from guys because A) I feel bad, B) I can buy my own and C) I never want to feel like I owe someone something. Mostly A, honestly. So I politely (or so I thought) declined. The guy was so insulted! All the girls at the table told me that you’re supposed to say yes or it’ll hurt their feelings. Lesson learned. Just kidding, I’ll probably say no next time, too.

While her coworkers went out, Rachel and I stayed true to our grandmotherly selves and watched Harry Potter on the couch with mediterranean takeout. It worked out perfectly, because we were well-rested enough for a decadent brunch at Snooze the next morning. 😉 This place has a thing called a pancake flight. Yes, like a beer flight, but with pancakes. Hello, heaven.


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These boots weren’t made for walkin’

After more Netflix-and-chilling (but actually) that day, we reluctantly prepared to go to a club that night. Rachel had been telling me for weeks how crazy the club scene in Scottsdale gets, but I guess I just assumed I’d be prepared since I went to school in Miami. Um, not really. The group of us were invited to sit at some guy’s table, so obviously we said yes – not because free drinks, but because sitting. In heels. Thank you, club gods. Anyway, they proceeded to pass around a bag of cocaine and ask if we wanted some. I literally grabbed it not knowing what it was at first and waved it around saying “OMG I wouldn’t even know what to do with this!” and one of them stopped me and reminded me that you can’t really wave around baggies of cocaine in public, even when you’re doing it in innocent outrage and confusion. Another lesson learned.


The next day, after our hungover stomaches had gotten down some breakfast burritos (#fitfam) we took a walk around Old Town Scottsdale. This was a Sunday afternoon, mind you. Yet there were groups of drunken young adults traveling around the streets in golf carts from one club/bar to the next. My old soul and aching head looked at Rachel in disgust, and she clarified that no, this was not because Monday was a holiday. This happens every weekend. Scottsdale, you have not ceased to amaze me.



Not a real tattoo. Was just feelin’ the nature vibes

On Monday, my last day, we decided to finally be active and go for a hike at Pinnacle Peak. It looked super daunting, especially because I had never been on a real hike, but thankfully it was easy. We really did it for the ‘gram anyway, so we got all we went for. In all seriousness, though, it was really beautiful. I wish the climate in New England allowed hiking/walking/breathing outdoors to be a thing. I’d probably be much more fit! (Maybe.)

We had dinner at a Mexican place called Blanco, which had an awesome happy hour. We capped off the night with ice cream sundaes (duh) at Sugar Bowl, an old-school ice cream parlor decked out in pink booths. Now that’s my kind of late night scene.

So now that I’ve given you a play-by-play of every step I took on my trip, I’ll let you go. If you ever find yourself in the Scottsdale area, I hope this helps you enjoy your trip to the fullest! And if not, I hope you at least got a chuckle out of it.

Colorfully Yours,







Hamburgers and Heels

IMG_7339Back in September, I bought two faux-leather jackets in the span of two days. While this sounds a little excessive, the two were vastly different. One was a black jacket with silver hardware and a detachable faux fur hood by Steve Madden. Although it was at Marshall’s and therefore very reasonably priced for the item, I spent a good two hours poring over the decision. As usual, I was running low on funds. I ultimately decided that I couldn’t live without it, and that I would just curb my spending for a while.

Then my coworker alerted me to a pale pink leather jacket in the window of our local consignment shop, Chic Consignment. I figured it couldn’t hurt to just take a peek. Well, it did hurt – my wallet, that is. In less than twenty-four hours I had not only broken my spending promise to myself, but I’d broken it on another leather jacket. But it was pink! I couldn’t pass it up.

Fast forward and I finally posed for some photos in the infamous pink jacket over Thanksgiving break… and I’m finally posting them now. Good thing pink is always in season! I decided to go for a ‘girly glam with edge’ look. I wore a black tulle dress that’s been in my closet for years and strapped on my favorite studded heels.

As I was brainstorming locations for the photos, I realized I wanted to show the same contrast in the venue as I did in my outfit. I guess it was my obsession with food that led me to this, but I thought it would be fun to be eating some greasy fast food while I posed in this glam outfit. McDonald’s to the rescue! Am I artsy or what?

Colorfully Yours,



The Colorful Details:

Jacket Chic Consignment // Dress H&M (old) // Heels Bobbles and Lace // Photography by Katie McLean

Eat a Lot and Don’t Be a Princess: The Ultimate Study Abroad Guide

Three years ago to this day, I was getting ready to board a flight to Barcelona, Spain, where I would proceed to experience the best four months of my life. While I am on the verge of being blinded by jealousy as my younger classmates prepare for their own semesters abroad, I decided to take the high road and share some of the most important tips I learned during my time in Spain. Here goes nothing!


1) Branch Out

You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but I can’t emphasize it enough. It may be a bit of a cliché, but it’s no empty phrase. When I chose my abroad destination, I didn’t factor in where anyone else was going. I knew where I wanted to go, and I knew I wanted to do it alone. My mom was worried about me moving to another country without a travel buddy, but I knew I needed to do it that way. As my departure date approached, I learned that a few Miami students were going to be in the same program. I didn’t reach out to stick together, though. I was serious about this whole branching out thing.

At first it seemed like everyone that traveled abroad did so with a gaggle of friends from home or school. Was I the only one that went solo? People were shocked that I chose to be assigned random roommates in an apartment. Guess what? It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. With no one around to restrict you to a certain identity, you really do learn a lot about yourself.

I even made one of my best, best friends while abroad. Rachel was randomly assigned as one of my roommates. When I saw her Facebook before getting to Barcelona, I was totally intimidated. I didn’t envision us being friends at all. Soon after arriving, though, we just clicked. We still talk constantly and have visited each other several times. In fact, this time next week I’ll be with her in Arizona!

2) Stop and Drink the Coffee

I mean this both literally and metaphorically. Being in a completely new environment and having pretty minimal responsibility is a winning combo. Take the long way to school. Walk around aimlessly for hours. Sit on a bench and people watch. Make each meal last for hours. Stand in line for an hour to get your favorite sandwich, and then sit on the steps of a nearby building enjoying every bite.

Discover your neighborhood hole-in-the-wall coffee shop and become friends with the owner. Don’t ask for a to-go cup – this isn’t America, after all. Watch as the barista decorates your café con leche with chocolate shavings in the shape of a heart. Be patient as you both try to make conversation in Spanglish. And if that fails, communicate with a smile. Sit down at one of the tiny tables with your steaming mug of coffee and just be still. You’re probably thinking this is really corny, but the moments like this in the café around the corner from my Barcelona apartment are some of my favorite memories from my semester abroad.

3) Go Out… Or Don’t

If you know me at all, it’s no secret that I pretty much hate going out. I’m a grandmother in that way. (Yet I chose Miami for college and Barcelona for my semester abroad – the irony is not lost on me.) Going into the semester, I was excited to take advantage of the world-renowned nightlife in Barcelona, but I was also worried about the inevitable moment when I would just be “over it.” Would all of my abroad peers be party animals, or would I be able to find someone to be the occasional grandma with?

Luckily, Rachel (see #1) shared my internal conflict of wanting to be fun but also never wanting to leave the apartment past 11pm. There were many nights when we would just look at each other as our roommates got dolled up for the night, and just shake our heads. That’s when the convenience store down the street came in handy – $11 American dollars for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s? Worth every penny. There were also a few nights that I was the only one who didn’t want to hit the club scene. But you know what? I decided that was ok. You have to go with your gut, even if people call you lame for it. The people that really love you will love you whether you’re drunk at a club or in bed reading Gone Girl on your iPhone for five hours straight.

Don’t get me wrong – I had some of the most fun nights of my life out in Barcelona. There’s nothing like dancing with your girlfriends in a sea of basically anonymous people who are just as carefree as you are in the moment. Holding hands and belting out the latest club music at the top of your lungs while ignoring the boys trying to dance with you? The best. Which brings me to my next point…

4) Don’t Worry about Boys

You didn’t go abroad to meet the man of your dreams. And if you did, well, it’s time to reevaluate. This semester is about finding yourself, making amazing friends from all over the country, embracing the culture of a new country, and having fun throughout the process. It’s not about impressing the cute guy on your program or going on dates. Be yourself, be silly, be carefree. The funny thing is, when you let down your guard and don’t worry about what those boys think of you, you’ll probably find that you get more attention than you ever did before. If that’s what you want, then that’s cool. But if you want to shoo those guys away and make a barricade with your girlfriends so you can dance in peace, that’s perfectly cool, too.

5) Eat, Drink, and Eat Some More

Now is NOT the time to worry about how you’re going to look in that bikini. As far as you should be concerned, the word “diet” doesn’t exist. The only “watching what you eat” you should be doing is watching yourself shovel churroScreen Shot 2016-01-08 at 1.22.39 PMs and chocolate in your mouth. Trust me – you don’t want to get home from this European free-for-all wishing you had tried that paella or gotten Nutella on that waffle. Plus, you’ll be doing so much walking that it may just even out!

As for drinking, I’ll just warn you now that alcohol is often cheaper than water in Spain. Yup. When you’re out at a restaurant with your friends, just get a pitcher of sangria. It’ll be cheaper than if you each ordered water, and you’ll definitely have more fun
drinking it. Salud!

6) Travel, but Don’t be a Tourist

While you’re abroad, a lot of people on your program will seem to be traveling Every. Single. Weekend. There will definitely be times when you freak out and think you’re not traveling the world enough. Guess what? Not everyone has a proverbial money tree to fund constant trips around the globe. Yes, it is much cheaper to travel within Europe once you’re already over there, but I would never call it cheap on an average college student’s budget. Did I break down and cry over Skype one night when my parents knocked some sense into me and told me that I had to be frugal? I sure did. Did I snap out of it? You betcha.

As the semester went on, my friends and I actually became so thankful that we hadn’t been traveling constantly. We got to know our city, Barcelona, as our home. We explored nooks and crannies that those frequent fliers never did. We became regulars at certain restaurants and groceries. I went on “exercise walks” that turned into three-hour solo excursions. The people that went somewhere else every weekend had fun, I’m sure, but they had a totally different experience than we did. Don’t get me wrong, I traveled plenty – Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland. But instead of squeezing fifteen trips into my short four months in Barcelona, I truly made it mine.

Another spin off of this tip is Don’t Plan Ahead. When I got to Barcelona, I quickly realized that a bunch of people had planned their weekend trips before they even got to Spain! These were, of course, the people that traveled in packs. I didn’t know anyone – how would I plan trips?! Well, this was the best thing I could’ve done. Trust me when I say you will make friends. And the people you travel with don’t have to be your besties! For example, Rachel and I rarely traveled together. This is one of those situations where your acquaintance can become your best travel buddy. You don’t want to be boxed in to plans and people before you even arrive. Things change – go with the flow!

7) Pack Light

My packing circumstances were a little different than most. I had to dedicate an entire carry-on suitcase to my medical supplies. That left me with one normal sized suitcase to fit enough clothes, shoes, toiletries, hair tools, books, etc. for four months in another country. When I first arrived at my apartment and saw how much my roommates had been able to bring, I freaked out. I thought I’d be the only girl constantly repeating outfits.

As time went on, though, we all realized that the last thing on our minds while abroad was how we looked. I’m serious! Sometimes Rachel and I joke when we look back on pictures – we note how bad we looked compared to the glamour shots that the latest batch of abroad girls post. But we don’t care, because we had the time of our lives. (And don’t forget, they have stores in Spain, too.)

When I went to Dublin for a weekend, I brought my tiny backpack. That was it. Hands down the lightest I’ve ever packed. Mind you, this was also the dead of winter, so the clothes I needed were bulky! I wore a lot of layers that weekend to vary my look. Not having to worry about lugging around a big suitcase as we hopped around was amazing. And guess what? Despite my lack of clothing options, that was one of my favorite trips. Go figure!

My main tip would be to bring a lot of basics that you can layer and swap. One of my best examples was the chambray shirt I brought. It can look cute on it’s own, under a sweatshirt, over a sweater, tied around your waist, and more. You don’t have to have a lot of clothes with you to be fashionable – just know how to use them!

8) Sit Alone

You probably think I’ve harped on about the whole ‘sit down and drink a coffee from a mug’ thing enough. But I’m so serious! Some of my happiest times were spent alone, eating a jamón sandwich at a hole in the wall café or indulging in a slice of chocolate cake at a cute little bakery. Yes, I even ate cake alone. It may sound silly or obvious to some of you. But taking this time without any distractions really teaches you to be comfortable with yourself. I’ve carried these lessons over into my home life – I’m not so afraid to do things with just me, myself and I anymore.

This distraction-free thing brings me to my next tip…

9) Leave the Phone at Home

Not only is there no need for you to bring your iPhone out with you, it’s also a huge risk. Unfortunately, iPhones are stolen from clueless American hands abroad more often than you change your clothes. It’s a huge no-no to leave your phone out on your table while you’re dining. It’s even a pretty bad idea to walk through the streets with it in your hand. So the easiest solution is to leave it at your apartment. You won’t really be able to use it until you can connect to Wi-Fi, anyway. You don’t need to Snapchat every landmark and moment. Of course you’re going to take a ton of photos – as you should – and you’ll want to share them. But wait until you’re chillin’ in bed that night to do so. In the meantime, pick your head up and look at those sights with your own eyes.

10) Don’t Be a Princess

My last tip hits very close to home. If you couldn’t tell, I can be a bit of a princess at times. I like my creature comforts. While I don’t see anything wrong with that most of the time, your semester abroad is the time to let your high maintenance self tone down to a medium-to-low maintenance chick. This can take a lot of different forms.

For one, lower your housing standards. This isn’t your parents’ house or the Marriott hotel. There’s a 99% chan6602_10151394578102620_1849477385_nce you won’t have a dishwasher, a dryer, or a shower that runs hot water for more than ten minutes at a time. My roommates and I had to divide into AM and PM shower shifts for this purpose. Not to mention our bathroom floor flooded every single time we showered. But in a weird kind of way, it was fun.
Next, stay in a hostel – once or twice. I really don’t see the need to stay in one every time you travel, because I was able to find some amazing deals in normal hotels. But there are obviously going to be times when you can’t swing that. So, you bite the bullet and stay in a sketchy room with fifteen suspicious characters snoring within a two-foot radius of you. If you’re anything like me, you’ll sleep with your belongings under your pillow. And by sleep, I mean you won’t close your eyes because you’ll be too paranoid. Regardless, hostels are something that everyone should experience in their lifetime.

Finally, ride the donkey. No, that’s not some sort of code. I actually rode a smelly donkey up a steep cliff in Santorini, Greece. If I made any sudden movements, I may have fallen to my death in the Aegean Sea. Ok, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it was scary! I knew immediately that I wanted to do it, though. If you don’t do weird, unnecessary things like balance atop a dirty animal on uneven terrain up the side of a mountain while you’re abroad, you never will.

So there you have it. My ultimate study abroad guide. Do you have any tips to add or lessons you learned on your trip? Leave them in the comments!

For those of you studying abroad this semester, enjoy it for all of us.

Be safe, be smart, and above all, have the time of your life.

Colorfully Yours,