The 8 Greatest Things to do in Munich Under 5 Euros

Helloooooo, fellow budget travelers! We all know Europe (especially Western Europe) is a doozy when it comes to price. From hostels to public transportation, food to souvenirs, travel can really drain your bank account if you don’t pay attention (or even if you do, tbh). I went to Munich for a week and found the 8 things to do, all under just FIVE EUROS.

the 8 greatest things to do in munich under 5 euros

1.Do a free walking tour.

I’ve written about this in like, every post I’ve published since I embarked on this great European adventure. But really, there’s a reason… did ya see the word FREE?

So yeah, there’s this company that basically does free walking tours all over Europe. They’re rated crazy high on Trip Advisor, Yelp, and like every other travel website. They last 2-3 hours, and you get to see most the famous monuments, places, and Googleable things in that time.

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A monument we saw on the tour in Odeonplatz.
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A monument you might just walk past if you didn’t know better. The gold stripe on the ground here indicates a path the Nazi resistors would walk down in order to avoid Nazis, therefore avoiding the recitation of the national anthem that was compulsory when passing a Nazi. The resistors created an entirely new way to walk through the city so they would never have to pass a Nazi.
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A statue of Juliet, from Romeo and Juliet. If you touch her gold breast, you receive 24 hours of good luck in your current romantic relationship!

You also get free tips from the local tour guides, who, in my experience, have been nothing less than hilarious and friendly. They’ll tell you all the great local spots to avoid the tourist traps (hellooo, sustainable tourism!!). It’s great.

This is the link to their website.

(There’s also regular walking tours in every city everywhere, but I’ve found this company to be the best of any I’ve done!)

2. Go up the elevator in Marienplatz.

Marienplatz is the main square in Munich, off of which are a significant portion of the tourist sights. I think this cost 3 euros. You basically locate this random elevator under the main gothic-style building in Marienplatz (aka the new city hall), and go up to the fourth floor. The receptionist will take your money and send you on your way up to the ninth floor. When you get off, you’ll be on the top tower of the new city hall, out in the open with the wind whipping on your face and the freezing wind blinding you.

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It was a bit cloudy the day I went, but it was still a breathtaking view

But the #VIEWS, friends. Omg.

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Need I say more?

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Moving on.

3. Shop around the Viktualienmarkt.

This is a little (well, not so little) market right next to the city centre, Marienplatz. In the market, you can find everything from local meats to unique souvenir shops. There’s flower shops and fruits and spices. It’s really a local spot turned tourist. It’s free to walk around and enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of the city!

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Fun fact: there’s also a May Pole here. Apparently there’s a local tradition where you try to steal other town’s May Poles and demand beer and food as ransom.

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4. Grab an espresso, a small glass of wine, or a slice of cake, and people-watch.

This, you can probably do in any city. But it’s one of my favorite things to do (and I have done it in every city I’ve been to so far).

You can so easily pass the time by observing how people do life in the city, people-watching, eavesdropping (does it really count if you can’t understand the seemingly endless conversations happening around you–you just want to listen to the intricacies that come with a foreign language?), or even reading, journaling, or just enjoying the moment.

This is what they mean by “stopping to smell the roses”.

Take a breather! Let yourself rest for a minute (or three hours) and watch the city. Take it all in. It’s a fantastic way to really feel a city.

Plus, a couple times when I’ve done this, locals have asked me for directions. So there’s that.

5. Explore the churches.

There are like a billion churches in Munich, and they are all so different.

St. Peter’s is right next to Marienplatz, and its incredible ornate gold touches contrasted with the white and black interior is so worth the visit. I actually went twice, because I loved it so much.

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The gothic Cathedral Church of Our Lady is a beautiful church on the opposite end of Marienplatz. It is absolutely full of history and beauty.

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Asam church is maybe a five minute walk from Marienplatz (closer to Sendlinger Straße, if you’re coming via metro or bus), but it is absolutely. worth. it. This is probably hands-down one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever been to, like, ever. It was made by the Asam brothers, for the Asam brothers, but the church was made available to the public when there was some protesting. It’s not the biggest church in the world, but it’s *literally* breathtaking.

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6. If you’re a history buff, visit the NS Documentation Museum.

I believe the ticket entry price was 5 euros for adults, 2.5 euros for students, and the price includes an audio guide. I spent around 2.5 hours here, but I easily could’ve doubled that. The exhibition begins on the fourth floor, and you work your way back down to the first.

Basically, the museum is a deconstructed textbook. It’s brimming with historical videos and photographs and text about World War II–everything there is to know about it.

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A photograph of the rules and restrictions placed upon Jews during the rise of Nazi Germany, as seen in the NS Documentation Museum.

This museum is not for people who don’t have an interest in WWII, Nazi Germany, or anything having to do with those two topics. It’s mostly reading about dense, sensitive topics, but it’s important and I’m really glad I visited.

7. Visit the English Garden.

I only spent about thirty minutes walking around the English Garden (Englischer Garten, in German) because it was so bitterly cold the day I went, but it was beautiful anyway! The garden was full of trees and fields and gazebos and little cafes, and the snow-capped pine trees were really lovely to wander about.

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8. Eat a huge pretzel or split a pint.

Of course, a trip to Munich wouldn’t be a trip to Munich without visiting the famous Hoffbrauhaus. It’s where Oktoberfest happens! Hoffbrauhaus is this gigantic, traditional beer hall, serving all kinds of beer, food, and other delicacies. There’s a traditional German musician group playing at all hours of the day, and the waitstaff wears traditional garb. The pints are not pints, either–they’re, like bigger than the size of my head! The beer ranges in price, but the pretzels were 3,80 euros, if my memory serves me correctly. I spent two nights here with friends, and we easily stayed for three hours without growing bored. It was rowdy, traditional, and lovely all at the same time, if that’s possible.

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Pretzels are only 3,80 and the pints range in price. Look at the size!!

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There you have it! Of course, there are countless other amazing things to do in Munich, but they’ll take just a little more of your wallet (and are totally, completely worth the price).

What are your favorite things to do in this lovely town?

tess (1)

How to Survive a Week in London for the Budget Traveler

We all know that Western Europe is one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world. I think I’ve spent more money in the past couple weeks than I do in a month at home (whoops!). I’ve learned how to cut corners here and there, though, so keep reading to learn from my mistakes!

How to Survive a Week in London for the Budget Traveler

1. Walk as much as possible. 

I literally couldn’t believe how expensive the tube was. An Oyster card alone is five pounds (you get that back when you return the card, though). I’m not sure of the exact amount, but I was putting in maybe eight to ten pounds a day, or maybe $12ish. I wasn’t even taking the tube that much! I did find, however, that things are closer in distance than they seem. Walking has all sorts of benefits: exercise (to burn off that 100g bag of chocolate you ate earlier…no? Just me? Okay.), exploration of the neighborhoods, getting a feel for the layout of the city, meeting people, saving money… the list goes on.

Walking provides so much more opportunity for sight-seeing, stumbling across cute little shops and cafes, and experiencing the city a bit more in-depth.

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Portrait of Shakespeare that I came across while exploring the city by foot.
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I stayed right next to the London Bridge, so I got out walking and explored the area around it!
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Tower Bridge, across from London Bridge!
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The Tower of London, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in between the London and Tower Bridges. If I hadn’t taken a couple hours out of my morning to walk around and explore my neighborhood, I never would’ve discovered it!
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Some street art I found on my way back from the London Bridge.

2. Cook as much as possible.

I bought quinoa meals and fruit to keep in my hostel, to eat in the morning and late afternoons before dinner. It cuts costs here and there, because all those 5 pound purchases really add up! I also purchased a big salad that kept me full for maybe 3-4 hours. Buy superfoods like that—kale, spinach, quinoa, chickpeas, etc…. Those foods keep you fuller longer than shitty foods! Finally, carry small snacks like nuts or granola bars with you. It will definitely help those mid-afternoon cravings.

3. Do free walking tours (or better yet, DIY it!).

My hostel partners with New Europe tours (I did the same one in Paris), a fantastic company that employs free-lance tour guides who work for free—you just tip at the end. It’s a 2-3 hour walking tour of the central neighborhood in the city, and it’s jam-packed with history, monuments, fun facts, insider tips, and more. It’s a great, very inexpensive way to both acclimate yourself to the city and plan for later activities (what interests you? What would you want to come back and see more of later?).

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A phone booth at the beginning of our walk. I really, truly thought these were just in British movies, and not all over the city. Fr.
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As seen on tour: Friary Court, aka St. James’ Palace.
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Trafalgar Square, another stop on our tour!
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Westminster Abbey!
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Big Ben, who is currently under construction, unfortunately.
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Buckingham Palace!

Secondly, I wanted to sign up for a fourteen-pound Harry Potter walking tour of the city on my last day, to see some filming locations. When I went to signup, however, it was full! I was discouraged at first, but then I figured I could just google some of the locations and check them out for myself. Turns out, this guy has already compiled a 23-page DIY Harry Potter walking tour that takes about 6 hours! It’s completely free, it has very detailed directions for walking and taking the tube, and you can choose which things you want to see and which things you don’t. He’s also included a lot of London’s history and fun facts, which is a nice touch. Click this link to check it out for yourself!

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Pretty self-explanatory 😉
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Gringotts Bank film location – aka the Australian Embassy!
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The Ministry of Magic – aka some random building on a random side street.

4. Google photos of famous places first to see if you want to pay the money to really go inside.

Many famous tourist attractions come with a hefty entrance fee, because everyone wants a photo for their Instagram. For example, a pass to see the insides of the three royal palaces runs about 98 pounds, if my mind serves me right. Ask yourself if you really want to see inside famous attractions, or if you just want to see it to say you’ve been inside. I know I don’t care much for British royalty, so I didn’t pay to go inside any of the palaces, or even to go out to Windsor Palace (a bit out of the city, comparable to Versailles).

The London Tower was 26 pounds, so I googled photos and I truly wasn’t impressed, so I walked over to the building and saw it from the outside, read the info on the plaques, and took some photos. St. Paul’s Cathedral was 18 pounds, so I did the same thing there. After all, if you don’t see it, you don’t know what you’re missing, either!

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The outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Magnificent!

Some things truly are worth seeing, if you have the money to pay it. For example, I saw photos of the inside of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and knew that for me, it was worth paying 16 euros to go inside.

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The crazy beautiful architecture inside La Sagrada Familia.

Instead of paying to go inside some of these famous monuments, I spent money on a ticket to see Wicked, which I knew would mean more to me in the long run. I’m glad I made that decision – it was one of the most incredible shows I’ve ever seen!

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Instead of paying to go inside some famous attractions, I visited the free (5 euro suggested donation) British Museum one afternoon… and I was NOT disappointed. I expected to spend an hour, hour and a half there, but I ended up spending 3 hours there! I didn’t even get to see all of what I wanted to, but the museum was closing.

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The outside of the British Museum.
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Ink pots from ancient China, as seen inside the British Museum.
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A beautiful depiction of a seated woman, as seen inside the British Museum.
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An Egyptian mummy, as seen inside the British Museum.

Do your research, and decide for yourself what you want to pay to see. To each their own!

5. Explore markets, rifle through local stores, stop inside artisan shops…. But don’t buy anything.

I went to the Camden Markets this week and was instantly drawn to these artisan rings. I wear two rings every day, a family heirloom from my grandma and a ring from Tiffany’s that I received for my fifteenth birthday. I thought wouldn’t one of these rings look lovely with the two I already wear? And what a story—I bought them at a market in London! These rings were so intricate and beautiful, not to mention handmade. Prices ranged from 12 to 26 pounds, which I did consider. I decided to continue shopping, and return if I really wanted one a while later.

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Sure enough, I didn’t miss them.

I read once that if you love something in a store or online, walk away for twenty minutes. If you still want it then, go back and buy it.

Humans have a tendency to consume—we see something, we have access to money to buy it, and so we do. It’s especially hard to walk away when the person who made it is standing right there, watching you. It feels rude to walk away! Remind yourself that you are just one in a million customers they see every day, and save your money.

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On the steps of a statue of Eros, near Piccadilly Circus.

Those are the five tips I learned this week! What tips do you have to see cities for cheap, especially expensive cities? I’d love to hear them (especially as I travel around Europe by myself!).

tess (1)

My Clean Beauty Regimen

How insanely frustrating is it when you spend a fortune on new products… just to find that they don’t work? Aren’t your skin color? Leave your hair greasy? I’ve focused my efforts on finding “clean”, vegan beauty products for a few years now, and I’d love to share some of my favorite, effective products! Let me do the work for you… keep reading!

my clean beauty regimen

I have skin that isn’t excessively oily, dry, or sensitive, so I’ve never been too sure about which products I should buy. My skin is, however, acne-prone.

I struggled with bad acne from sixth grade through eighth grade. It wasn’t small breakouts, it was almost a rash across my forehead, with the breakouts happening on my nose and around my mouth. I tried doctor-prescribed pills, creams, and spot treatments. I changed up my diet. I worked out. Nothing seemed to work for me.

When I got my period at age 13, my doctor prescribed birth control to try to curb the acne. My mom and I were hesitant to have me start taking it so early in life, but once I began taking it, my acne cleared up in a matter of weeks. I’ve been on it ever since, and my acne has never been as bad as it was then. I still get breakouts and I have some acne scars, but it’s nothing like it used to be, and for that I am grateful.

So, when I search for products, I try to find products geared for use on acne-prone faces. A few other guidelines I use are as follows:

-cruelty-free (look for the bunny symbol!!!)

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-vegan (the difference between cruelty-free and vegan is that cruelty-free means the product was not tested on animals, and vegan means it contains no animal products.)

-no sulfates, other unnecessary chemicals, etc.

-a low score on the app “Think Dirty”. I first discovered this app when a girl I follow on Instagram posted about it, and I was intrigued. This app rates beauty products on a scale of 0-10 on their toxicity, carcinogenicity, and allergens. It doesn’t have every product in the world, but I now screen all my products on this app before buying.

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I’ve used Pacifica, Burt’s Bees, Say Yes to ___ (Tomatoes, Cucumbers, etc.), and plenty of other drugstore “clean” beauty brands, and they’ve all worked relatively well. I’ve never seen *incredible* results, but I’ve recently begun using some new products and I am really impressed! Most of these products can be found at drugstores or ordered online for very cheap.

Face wash:

I use Shea Moisture African Black Soap. I bought mine on Amazon, but it can also be purchased at retailers such as Target and Walmart. I use this bad boy twice a day, morning and night, and I use it before I use any other products. I also use it as body wash! I first learned about this product via a friend on Twitter. It smells amazing and is very inexpensive!

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The app rates each individual product based on the criteria the entire product is screened with.

Acne Spot Treatment:

I used to use a regular spot treatment from Target brand, but it’s full of nasty chemicals that harm our skin, so I did some research. I wanted something inexpensive and natural, and I discovered the miracle that is apple cider vinegar! I use organic apple cider vinegar from Aldi. This website recommends mixing 1 part apple cider vinegar with 3 parts water, but because my skin isn’t very sensitive, I just eyeball about 1:1. I just use my finger to dab it on my problem spots, wait about 30 seconds, and wash it off. I also do this regimen twice a day, and I’ve seen a difference in as little as four days.

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Toner:

After washing my face and using a spot treatment, I tone my face with Thayer’s witch hazel with rose petal. I also discovered this treatment via a Twitter friend. I ordered this on Amazon but I believe it is also in Target stores! I squeeze a few drops on a cotton ball or a sheet of toilet paper and dab it on my face. It smells so lovely.

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Moisturizer:

At night, I use Shea Moisture’s coconut oil moisturizer. I use just one pump for my entire face, focusing on my cheeks, mouth area, and nose area. It smells of coconuts and is so light!

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This product has not been rated yet on Think Dirty.

BB cream:

I did a lot of research before purchasing a BB cream. I wanted it to be travel size, provide good coverage, moisturize, and be cruelty-free and vegan. The ONLY product I could find with high reviews was The Body Shop Tea Tree BB Cream–and I LOVE it. It was a little bit expensive but it’s totally worth the price. It finishes with a powdery, solid look, and most days, this is the only face makeup I use. It smells like lemons, too!

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Shampoo & Conditioner:

I have used John Frieda’s shampoo and conditioner for redheads forever. However, while I find that it holds the red in my hair excellently, it doesn’t provide any volume and my hair is greasy after only a day or two, even with dry shampoo! They also both rate an ugly 9 on the Dirty Meter. I asked a couple coworkers for advice, and they recommended trying Lush bar shampoos and conditioners. That idea seemed genius to me, because it also minimizes the liquids I bring while traveling! In addition, I already know Lush to be a fantastic company and a friend to animals.

I went to the Lush store at the Mall of America and the saleslady recommended the Seanik bar for my thin, color-treated hair. I shit you not, I had people complimenting my hair left and right and I hadn’t even told anyone that I switched shampoos. I will never purchase another shampoo. It functions like a bar of soap, but you lather it into your hair. They are also kept in these handy little tins! (Also, they last for 60 washes!)

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For conditioner, I use the Big conditioner. I don’t have many opinions about this product, except that it smells great! I love that all of Lush’s products are cruelty-free and most are vegan. I lather this in my hands (takes a bit longer for this product to lather, however) and wring it into my ends, avoiding my roots like crazy because I know how heavy and greasy my hair gets with conditioner on the roots.

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These products have not been rated on Think Dirty.

Body Lotion:

I have been using Shea Moisture’s Coconut and Hibiscus Lotion for a couple years now, and I will never use another lotion. It keeps my skin SO soft and luscious. It can be purchased online or at typical drugstores.

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Deodorant:

For years, I used Secret’s prescription-strength deodorant. I don’t sweat a lot, but I noticed that when I did, prior to using the prescription-strength, I smelled like the drugstore deodorant I was using. I didn’t want to smell like deodorant! Using the prescription strength, I never sweat and I never smelled, but my armpits frequently stung, and I experienced a lot more razor burn. Basically, my body was rejecting the foreign, heavy chemicals I was lathering on my skin every day.

I wanted to find a more natural solution, but I was stuck. Did I want to be that vegan, with the rock deodorant that everyone knows doesn’t work except her?

I did some research. And what I eventually decided to do was stop wearing deodorant altogether for a few weeks, to detox my body from those harsh chemicals. I sweat. I smelled. I wore really thick clothes and heavy perfume to mask the scent. But after a while, I noticed something peculiar: I wasn’t sweating as much. I didn’t really smell. I’m not sure if this is a *thing* or not, but it happened to me.

I still wanted to have a deodorant as a fall-back, so I purchased Schmidt’s Rose and Vanilla Deodorant. I don’t wear it every day, and sometimes I’ll go a few days without deodorant at all. Sometimes on a day with heavy physical activity, I’ll put it on once or twice–with no stinging! I bought it at the Mississippi Market Co-op on West 7th in St. Paul, but it can also be found online here.

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And last but not least, toothpaste:

I was using Tom’s natural toothpaste, which I was happy with, but as it ran low and I looked for travel-friendly options, I came across Lush’s toothy tabs. These babies are weird, I’m not gonna lie. Basically, you pop a tab into your mouth, chew it, wet your toothbrush, and brush like usual. While you don’t get that minty-fresh feeling, I swear my teeth have never felt so extraordinarily clean. Fr. The saleslady explained that the Boom! Toothy Tabs were the most popular, because they contain whitening charcoal.

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This product has not yet been rated on Think Dirty.

What are your favorite natural, vegan, cruelty-free products? I’d love to continue to add to my routines! It takes a while to find a product I love, but it’s so exciting to find and adore new products. THANK YOU to all the companies out there who are transparent with their practices and ingredients. It makes a world of difference, and we are noticing!!

tess (1)

Septum Piercing 101: All Your Questions Answered

A year ago, I got two cartilage piercings in my right ear. I truly thought that at that point, I was done with piercings. I mean, I had nine at that point! What else would I pierce?!

But, as anyone who is into body modification will tell you, they are addictive. as. hell. 

I started wearing a nose hoop as a fake septum, just to get the feel of what it might look like if I were to get it pierced. I got some good reviews, but it tickled to wear and I wasn’t very consistent, so it was obvious it was fake (lol).

I tend to be a liiiiiiiittle impulsive. So one Tuesday morning, I called my friend Marisa, and we went to get my septum pierced two hours later.

The wait was two hours long, but I suppose that’s the price you pay for a new body modification (and $45 plus tip). Luckily, the tattoo shop we were in was really interesting, covered in vines and little Buddhas. There was also a koi fish pond inside, too. Rap music was blaring from an artist’s chair down the hall, and tattoo drawings plastered the walls.

Finally, the guy brought me back into the ~piercing room~. Now, as I previously wrote, this was my tenth piercing. I’m not like, a piercing newbie or anything. But in my eyes, this was my first #edgy piercing (I don’t really consider my nostril piercing to be edgy, considering everyone and their mother has it pierced). He marked my nose, then slid a needle through. It felt really special, lol. Are your eyes watering yet?

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After he slid the needle through, I sat there for a few seconds as he prepared the piercing I’d preselected.

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I knew enough not to wear makeup, because piercing the nose makes the eyes water. And boy, were my eyes watering. It literally looked like I was sobbing.

He slid the jewelry through the new piercing, and that was that! I paid and left with a new piercing.

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I got it pierced with a small, silver hoop that was flush with my skin.

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Let me address some questions I was asked frequently after getting my septum done.

Did it hurt?

Yes? I mean, relatively, yes. Of course sliding a needle through any skin on your body is going to hurt. But what I didn’t know about the septum piercing was that they don’t pierce the cartilage of your nose–they pierce the skin between the cartilage on the front of your nose, and the harder cartilage that supports the inside of your nose. So it didn’t hurt nearly as bad at my ear cartilage piercings or my nostril. I would say it hurt a little more than my six earlobe piercings, but that’s just because it was on my face and a little stranger of a feeling.

How long was the healing period?

I changed my piercing after four weeks. I went back to the place I got it pierced to purchase new jewelry and had a pro do it for me. The actual healing period is about six weeks, I believe. It stopped hurting after about a week or so.

How did you clean it?

In the past, I’ve had to use salt water soaks three times a day for weeks or months. This time, the piercer just told me to get a Q-tip wet with warm salt water and just rub it on the piercing, and then wash off the salt water mix. So basically what I’d do is wet a Q-tip, dip it in the salt (NOT!!! Table salt!!!), and then get the Q-tip wet again. I’d clean the blood or whatever off the piercing, then I’d cup some warm water in my hands, and dip my nose in the water. Then I’d just dry off my nose.

What size is your piercing?

16g. I got it pierced with a size closer to 18g (which is smaller than 16g), so when I went back in to change the piercing, the guy just had to gauge the piercing a little. That essentially means he had to slide a slightly bigger needle through my piercing, in order to make it the proper size.

Will you ever be able to have a job with that piercing?

I know that a lot of people ask this question out of actual curiosity. When people ask this condescendingly, it’s actually really offensive and rude, FYI. I am currently an employee at six places (yes, you read that right. I’m not active at all six places, though.), and only two of those six places ban face jewelry. In this case, I have two options: flip up the jewelry if I’m wearing a curved barbell, or just take it out. It won’t close in an eight-hour shift.

To this question, I also respond with if a workplace doesn’t appreciate how I choose to express myself, do I really want to work there? You tell me. My ability to be professional with clients and perform well in the workplace is literally 0% affected by a piercing in my nose.

Finally, as more and more millennials become the bosses, I think that this weird avoidance society has regarding visible piercings and tattoos will go away. Think about how rebellious it used to be to pierce your nostril…and now literally everyone has that piercing. So.

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Peep the gold clicker!!

SO there ya have it–my septum experience, from beginning to end! I’ve changed my piercing a couple times, and I’m not 100% sure yet that I’ve found the jewelry for me.

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Gold curved barbell

What do you guys think about body modifications? What about body mods in the workplace? Drop a comment below!

Why I Stopped Wearing a Bra

Okay, y’all. It’s time to get #real. I’ve started and reworked this post approximately five million times over the past three months, but it’s time to get down to business: in October, I stopped wearing a bra every day. Here’s why.

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Maybe you’ve seen the headlines–every news source seems to have covered this popular new trend, from the Huffington Post to Bustle to USA Today. Or maybe you’ve heard of the hashtag #FreeTheNipple. Women are going braless in droves, and maybe you’ve wondered why. Why would women forgo arguably one of the most important pieces of clothing? Granted, there are a number of downsides, from needing to hold my boobs when I go up or down stairs to aching nips from direct exposure to whatever fabric my shirt is made from. But in my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons. In this post, I’m getting into the nitty gritty: what’s it really like? Is it right for you? Why is it important?

1. The Why

Last year, I grew two bra sizes. I went to Victoria’s Secret on a whim and got measured, just for the heck of it, and I grew two sizes! I’d been wearing the same size bra since, like, eighth grade, so this news was SO. EXCITING. The sales lady celebrated with me (I’m sure she was just salivating over the commission she was going to make) as I brought like ten bras into the fitting room in celebration. I ended up purchasing only one, but it was $78. Seventy-eight dollars! Almost eight hours of work at any one of my various jobs. And this was no ordinary bra–it was one of those ultra-sexy bombshell beautiful babe bras. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

I definitely got my $78 worth, because I wore it all the time. I went like three months without taking it off. I felt gorgeous, and I wore low-cut tops to show off my brand-new set of boobs. When I went out with friends, I made sure to wear clothes that showcased my new favorite accessory. I let my boobs go to my head, if that’s even a thing. Sometimes I even contoured my cleavage just for the fun of it. I bought a second bra a few months later, spending the same amount of money on just another item of clothing I already owned. What???

They were kind of comfortable, I guess (keywords: I guess). Not $78 comfortable, but they were, nonetheless.

When it was laundry day, I didn’t want to take them off, because what would people think?! I could not, would not be caught braless. I mean, obviously my chest wasn’t as big as these bras made them seem. What was I to do?! The only solution was to do laundry at off times, to only wash one at a time (and do twice the load, therefore wasting twice the amount of water, etc.), or hand wash them. So. Much. Work.

I was totally participating in the horrible women-shaming culture ideals that preach that women aren’t worthwhile unless they have triple-D cups and a tiny waist–the exact culture I was trying to combat. I was completely investing into everything I said I was against: the ideal body type, the sexualization of the female body, putting your worth in your body.

And here’s the thing: I never measured up–to my own standard’s or anyone else’s.

2. The When

Living in Denver, a notoriously liberal city, I had casually noticed that many girls were choosing to go braless. I thought to myself Oh, that is so awesome! Props to them, but that’s not for me. I guess I approached it the way I approach girls who don’t shave (which I still do, but am totally intrigued by the concept of). The deciding moment, though, was at an anti-Trump rally. Classic liberal move, am I right? Lol.

My friends and I were on Capitol Hill in downtown Denver right off of Colfax, high on the buzz of cohesive protest. The woman behind me was holding up some sign of protest on her piece of cardboard, wearing just a flimsy red tank top with nothing underneath. I remember being so in awe of her openness. She was chanting along with the crowd, totally unnerved by my eyes. I know I was being totally rude, but I just couldn’t believe it! Sometimes, I even slept with sports bras on. I literally couldn’t even imagine going out in public on a chilly-ish night with just a thin tank top on.

I had already been quietly toying with the idea of going braless once and a while when I wore a sweatshirt or something. But seriously, seeing this woman’s bravery and complete lack of caring about other’s opinions was SO inspiring!

3. The What

The next few weeks served as a test-run.

I wore bras without underwire to a job interview and to rehearsals and stuff, to appear a little more “professional” (because boobs are so unprofessional *eye roll*). I tried wearing different kinds of shirts with and without bras, to see how it felt. And quite honestly, the first month was very uncomfortable.

It’s gonna get a lil TMI here for a second. You’ve been warned.

Y’all, my nips were SORE. Like, sore sore. As in, red and painful and all of the other cringe-y words that you don’t want to see associated with the word “nipple”.

I did a little research on this. My idea was that maybe, because my boobs have been so lovingly sheltered and protected my whole life, they were just not used to the harsh reality of fabric. My suspicions were confirmed with a quick Google search. Nips don’t like the roughness of fabric right away.

Thankfully, this went away after about a month. I am thankful I stuck it out though. However, there were (and still are) other challenges.

It is very obvious when someone is staring (which I totally know I did to that woman in Denver, lol). Like, hey men!, newsflash!, women can tell when you aren’t looking at our eyes when you’re talking to us! When you don’t wear a bra though, everyone notices. Then they awkwardly look away, like they weren’t supposed to see your nips or something. As if they’ve NEVER seen nipples before, lol.

I went to the gym a few times without a bra on, which was still great but pretty painful. I have now allowed myself to wear sports bras to the gym.

Of course, we all know what happens when we get cold. I’ve learned to deal with the social response of having visible nips when it’s cold out. I live in Minnesota, for Pete’s sake. It’s going to happen people, deal with it.

There are jackets I own where the zipper annoyingly rubs right on my nips and it’s actually really painful. When I know I’m going to wear those jackets, I either wear a thicker shirt underneath, fold the jacket out in such a way so it doesn’t touch my chest, zip the jacket part way, or I’ll just wear the Calvin Klein bra I own as another physical barrier to the pain.

4. Why it’s worth it, regardless

As I previously mentioned, I spent $78 on two different bras. And to be completely honest, I’ve considered spending more. $78 is pretty typical for a quality, sexy bra pricetag. Of course, I have the staple lace bralette to wear under my nicer, meet-the-parents-type dresses and a sports bra for working out, but those are just cherries on an already overwhelming sundae. Now, I don’t spend money on bras. I still have the bras from Victoria’s Secret, but I don’t really wear them. I don’t even have them at college with me.

I don’t need to consider what a shirt or dress or something would look like with a different type of bra. In addition, I don’t need to buy a special kind of bra for a certain style of clothing (backless, strapless, etc.).

The CONFIDENCE I have gained is the most significant benefit. I have become unapologetic about my body, and my chest in particular. I can totally see when people notice, but I literally just don’t care anymore. My self-worth isn’t placed somewhere on my body, it’s in my mind. It’s in my heart. It’s in the most important part of who I am: me. Not the outward presentation I put forth, but the me that I want people to see. (Also, there’s this, like, ~sisterhood~ when I see another woman going bra-less. I feel very connected to my feminine, sisterly side, lol.)

Granted, it took a while for me to get to this point (I’ve been bra-less for about six months now), but it is SO. WORTH. IT.

Not wearing a bra is the most empowering thing I’ve ever done (not to mention the cheapest, least stressful, most carefree thing).

What do you think? Have you tried going bra-less? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

New Years Resolutions Check-in

Helloooooo! I hope everyone’s February is going well! I’ve now completed FIVE WEEKS (???) at my new school, and I’m it’s a great fit for me.

Since we’re two months into 2017 (!!!), I think it’s a good time to evaluate how we’re all doing on our New Years Resolutions! Take an honest inventory, reevaluate which goals are *actually* attainable, and make some new, realistic short-term goals that will help eventually achieve that long-term goal.

Here’s a link to my post about my 2017 New Years Resolutions and Mission Statement (it’ll open in a new tab!). Let’s do a quick check-in on my resolutions:

  1. Learn Spanish. I think I’m doing pretty well on this one! I have a 31-day streak on Duolingo (I was at 28 days but I missed a day while I was on the Middle School Girls’ retreat *crying face*), and I’m joining the Spanish club at St. Kate’s! I’ve also signed up for daily Spanish emails through Study Spanish, and I listen to the Coffee Break Spanish podcast on Spotify while I workout.
  2. Continue to study music theory. Weeeeelllllllll…… I kinda dropped the ball on this one. I’m in choir and voice lessons, does that count?! I need to intentionally set aside time to continue learning theory on my own.
  3. Start a UST/SCU a Capella group. I ran into some logistical roadblocks with this one when I met with a student group organizer at St. Kate’s, but I have some more in the works with this one!
  4. Stop the negative talk. I feel good about this one as well! I have some goal-setting worksheets posted around my room that focus on the good things about myself, and I heard some quotes recently about building others up, differentiating between gossiping and venting, etc. I’m also taking a neat theology class all about the divine in human beings and our interactions with each other, so I am continually learning (and reading scientific articles) about the awesomeness of people. I’m still working on this goal, and I anticipate that I will be for a long time, if not my whole life, but I’m giving myself room to mess up. And that’s what it’s all about.
  5. Keep track of my spending. I feel awesome about this goal!! I’ve started paying off some of my credit card debt that’s accumulated from paying for textbooks and clothes and such, and I got a new, well-paying job that will help me put some cash in the bank. I used Dollarbird for a while, but my phone broke so the app doesn’t work very well, so I’ve transitioned to Track Every Coin, which is on desktop so I can use it! I’m still working on actually *saving* some money for future use, but I know I’ll get there soon.
  6. Run a 5k. Lol. Madison and I signed up for the Color Blast 5k in May, but we’ve ran into some weird business stuff, and we’re working with the Attorney General to figure it all out. Soooo, this goal has been ~mysteriously halted~ for the time being.
  7. Clean, clean, clean. Eating clean has been a HUUUGE focus for me recently! Since I moved into my apartment, I’ve only been keeping 100% whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and other natural foods in my cupboards and refrigerator. And I cannot even say how much healthier I feel. I am still struggling with some weird health things (we’re thinking maybe trying a gluten-free diet for a couple months), but my acne is gone, and I don’t get stomachaches anymore. I used to live in a perpetual state of slight nausea, and I have not had ONE. STOMACH. ACHE. It’s AWESOME. Clean eating has my vote!!!

I think I’m doing pretty well! I’ve also been journaling a LOT more frequently than usual, and I’m reading for pleasure again. Life is pretty dang awesome right now!

I’d love to hear how you guys are doing–shoot me a message if you want to talk. I would *love* to talk with anyone about anything. Literally. xoxo

How I Knew it was Time to Make the Chop

I’ve always been adventurous with my hair. In elementary school, my mom used to take my sister and I to get highlights or lowlights before the start of a new school year. I loved the idea of changing up my typical look!

I wasn’t always so tame with my hair coloring though, as you’ll read below! I’ve also included some tips at the bottom to help you decide if it’s time for you to make the cut too. Keep on reading!

Box Dyes Through the Years….

The first time I box-dyed my hair, I was in seventh grade. I purchased a blonde kit, friend and I dyed our hair together. My hair didn’t change much, since my natural color is pretty blonde.

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One of my senior photos that features my natural hair color.

After that first time, I learned my lesson (which apparently was “don’t dye your hair the same color”), and started doing more extreme colors. In the effort of saving some personal dignity, I won’t post the photos….but I did some pretty extreme colors. Bright red, dark red, black, blue-black, and bleach blonde. I loved having different wild all through middle school. In high school, I did some more typical colors, but I liked the dark red the best.

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This photo is from college, but it’s the same box dye dark red color!

In college, I stuck with the dark red for the first part of the year, and then decided to do something I’d never done before: I (dun dun dun) got my hair dyed professionally.

I tried a red ombre, which I loved! I kept it for about fourish months, but it just got expensive.

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You can’t see it very well in this photo, but it’s dark red on the top and fades into blonde!

Finally, I just dyed it a solid dark brown, a color I’d never been. I still have this color right now!

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Day two of rushing at the University of Denver.

Deciding to Make the Cut

Freshman year of high school, I had a pixie cut. I decided to grow it out after about six months, but I’ve never had an actual haircut since then. I’ve had an inch off here and there, but I’ve pretty much been growing it out for five years. I’ve thought about cutting it into a short, above the shoulder bob, but I always thought it looked better long. It’s easier to find cute, fun updos. I thought guys liked long hair better *cue MASSIVE eye roll*.

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My mom and I at my sophomore year homecoming,with my pixie cut!

I have superfine hair, and not a lot of it. I often feel as though my hair looks flat or frizzy, because it is kind of curly in the humidity and just looks bad. I thought that having long hair might make it look nicer, but it ended up getting really hard to manage. I never wanted to style it, and I ended up throwing it all up into a bun every day before class.

Eventually, I read a post on Pintrest about fine hair and the best haircuts for this type of hair. There were a lot about pixie cuts that I skimmed past, because I know myself well enough not to cut it all off again.

Then, I came across a something called a “blunt bob”. It’s a bob of any length, without any kind of layering. As it just so happens, I have never had an affinity for layers–they don’t look very good on me, in my opinion. So I did a little more searching through the depths of Pintrest, found a groupon, and scheduled an appointment at an Aveda training salon. No turning back.

And it was that quick. That decision came that quickly! The next morning, I had a blunt bob about an inch above my shoulders.

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At first, I was a little shocked. I mean, I had long hair for years! I was so used to playing with the ends while watching Netflix, or being able to just toss it up before class if I was running late. Now, I can barely get it back in a low ponytail. But, I LOVE IT!

Y’all, I’ve never felt so free! I love that I have my own style. I love that my hair doesn’t look like everyone else’s. I love that there are so many styles that I can STILL do with my hair.

So, if you are thinking about making the chop yourself, here are some things to think about!

  1. If you’ve been doing an ombre for a while now with lightened ends, it’s a great way to completely cut off all the damaged ends and begin again with healthy ends.
  2. There are still SO MANY styles you can do! Check out my Pintrest page, especially the board called “//babe”.
  3. Shortened hair adds some sass to your look. Add some edge, some quirkiness!
  4. If you’ve recently had a major life change, like moving to college or scoring a new job, it might be nice to change up your beauty routine as well! I love doing this.
  5. Finally, remember that hair grows back! If you hate it, it will grow back.

If you’re even thinking about it, ask around! I haven’t regretted my decision once. You never know–it could be one of the best decisions you make this year. 🙂