My blog focuses on beauty, fashion and lifestyle, but I provide the unique perspective of being a (very) broke student. For beauty, I write about hyped up products and decide whether or not its worth taking the $$ plunge.
The Top 30 #30Wears is a new challenge that I’m starting right here, today! The 30 Wears Campaign was started by EcoAge’s Livia Firth, and aims to bring more awareness to sustainability practices when shopping. The requirements of the challenge are pretty simple– just write a blog post, make a YouTube video, Instagram story, Twitter thread, (ANYTHING) featuring your 30 favourite pieces of clothing that you’ve worn at least 30 times, bringing more awareness to the aims to #30Wears and sustainable shopping practices! You can read more about the campaign, this challenge and why both are so important to me on Essa+Ace – a website I started to resell quality pieces of clothing and talk about issues in the fashion industry. Here is my submission to the Top 30 #30Wears Challenge, my favourite pieces of clothing that I’ve definitely worn at least 30 times.
pretty in pink
1. Top: Bershka
2. Shorts: Forever 21
BONUS: This vintage Nine West bag is on sale on my Instagram market – @essaacemarketplace if you like what you see!
all white party
3. Top: Topshop, the perfect every day white tee, I especially love that it has permanently rolled sleeves because mine always fall out during the day
4. Shorts: Forever 21, whenever I wear these shorts and an outfit like this I feel like I’m going to lounge in the Hamptons
5: Jacket: Thrifted, originally Walmart according to the tag
cuffs and cut-outs
6. Top: Urban Outfitters, I bought this after Taylor Swift wore that shirt backwards to a basketball game… like a real life version of that scene from Mean Girls. It was on sale at UO and V cheap, given the style of the shirt I never thought I would wear it as often as I do but it’s SO easy to style.
7. Shorts: American Apparel, these are classics. The ‘go-to’ AA shorts. MIne are two sizes up which I regretted at first but now I love because I can wear them no matter where my body is at and they always look cute.
Bonus: headscarf is from Ardenes — if you’re looking to add some to your closet look there! They’re really affordable and exactly like the ones you can get at Zara etc. for twice the price.
rainbows and sunshine
8. Top: Winners, again a total bargain, wear it ALL the time despite it being quite noticeable, love love love wearing my pride quite literally on my sleeve in this stylish number
9. Jeans: Topshop (Joni), I’ve had these for a good 5 years and they’re wearing in.. I’ve been considering getting rid of them because they’re SO tight and I’m not about that anymore, but the cut is SO flattering! I can’t bear to part with them just yet.
Is anyone else SUPER snoopy when it comes to other people’s makeup? I want to know what you’re using, what you love, and what you only have because you paid for it! I want to know everyone’s take on every bit of makeup, what your favourite brands are and what your favourite primer, mascara, eyeshadow palette, everything is! Is this super not-normal???? Probably. But I’m really counting on you being the same way as me because I filmed a VERY chatty ‘What’s In My Makeup Bag?’ video and uploaded it to share with you…..
What's In My Makeup Bag? 2018 Edition - YouTube
Real talk: Do you like when I make a blog post to feature a new video? I know most of my blogging friends aren’t subscribed to my channel, so I just like to throw one in here when I know it’s content matches up with what my blogging audience is interested in! I also think video is a bit more personal, and you can get to know me, the person behind the keyboard a little bit better this way… Let me know what you think.
L’Occitane is one of my all time favourite beauty brands. They have products in every price range, they have a long and positive relationship with their buyers, and they make all of their products with care in France. This article already sounds like it’s sponsored but I promise it’s not! If I WAS sponsored by L’Occitane, I’d be screaming it from the hilltops. Sigh, a girl can dream. I’ve been buying from L’Occitane for a few years now, so I thought I would share with you a little guide to their best products on a budget.
I’m in the lowest of budget brackets… as in I just barely have one. I am a full-time student, so I don’t have the cash to dish out on some of their fancier products. On the flipside I’m only 21, and I have been blessed with relatively easy skin. I have combination skin that’s very sensitive. I break out with eczema when my skin is angry, and regularly get hives and redness as my skin is very easily irritated, but I don’t have many problems with acne. Basically, what I’m looking for is a product that is made with non-toxic and non-irritating ingredients, preferably in a recyclable container, preferably created by a company that treats its employees and its testing process with integrity, and, of course, is relatively affordable. So far, L’Occitane has been the only brand that regularly fits the bill.
My budget is generally $35 and under for a single product. If I am spending $35 on a single product, it better be specialised and/or large in quantity – i.e. an eye cream, or a face cream (50ml+). And, if it’s at the top of my budget it also better be a quality product. I feel like I can trust L’Occitane on the quality front as their cheaper products are still made to meet the high standard of the brand.
Hands down the BEST $35 and under product, which I know you know I love because I wrote a whole review of it, is the Comfort Cream. Sometimes it’s known as the ‘Shea Light Face Cream‘, I don’t know okay, the real name is kind of elusive. There are two versions of shea butter face creams – one is 5% and one is 25%. The 25% is just TOO heavy for my face, even when it’s wintertime and my face is really dry. The 5% is the perfect, made by angels specifically for me, face cream. I am regularly astonished at how great my skin looks when I use it. It moisturizes and sinks into the skin quickly, soothes dry patches and eczema, and leaves your skin feeling soft and moisturized. I’ve run out of it twice this year (one full container and one sample), and both times I tried to use a different face cream, and both times my face immediately started breaking out in eczema patches. At $34CAD this product is just barely in my price range. But, when I consider that without it I feel itchy and uncomfortable in my skin, it’s totally worth it.
This was one of those products I bought just to get free shipping… you know? When you need five more dollars to qualify so you look for the cheapest thing you can find? I have been using Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment as lip balm for years now, and I love love LOVE it. They’re about equally as expensive and equally as awesome. No chapped lips, no peeling, no cracks, just soft, soft soft. Pawpaw ointment only comes in a tube – it’s great for that product because it can be used for a million and one things, BUT: when I’m looking to put on lip balm in the morning, I don’t want to use my hands because I’ll be using them to apply serum/creams/etc., so the L’Occitane’s lip balm applicator is a nice bonus!
I live in a very chilly place, which means my winters are usually filled with dry air and even drier hands. I started using L’Occitane hand cream because it was hella affordable, and smelled amazing. To be honest, I didn’t expect much of it in terms of it actually keeping my hands soft. Now it’s two years later and I have yet to purchase hand cream by any other brand! I used try all the classic heavy-duty hand creams for dry hands, but now I just use a L’Occitane hand cream (doesn’t matter which scent, my personal favourite is Verveine). I use it both in the morning and at night and I’m good to go! Part of the solution was probably just that I actually put on hand cream regularly now that I have products that smell nice and feel nice to put on. Bonus points for the packaging: the screw-on lid is hexagonal so even when you have slippery creamed up hands you can get it on and off no problem.
Honourable Mention: L’Occitane Advent Calendar
I have bought the L’Occitane advent calendar two years in a row, now mostly because they are the BEST beauty advent calendar in terms of value. Everything in the calendar is travel sized, but there’s a great variety in products. You usually get a few different hand creams, foot cream, face cream, shampoo, conditioner, a few body washes, a perfume, a lip balm — pretty much a sample of everything that L’Occitane sells (except for their specialized anti-aging products). I initially bought the advent calendar as a treat, and as a way to figure out what my favourite products and scents were. I repurchased it last year because the assortment of travel sized products was perfect for travelling. I’ve only been on two trips this year, but I had travel sized shampoo/conditioners, moisturizers, and body wash for both trips from this year’s advent calendar alone. I still haven’t decided if I’ll get next year’s calendar, but I’m seriously considering it.
L’Occitane is hands down my favourite skincare brand. I love it so much that I haven’t had much reason to branch out… so what’s YOUR go-to skincare brand? Are there any amazing products out there that I’m missing out on? Let me know in the comments below!
Now that the whole neck scarf thing is back in a big way people are looking for more and more ways to style neck scarves. One obvious answer? Put them in your hair! Bandana styling was the OG way to style a neck scarf, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t pull most of these styles straight out of 4 year old me’s repertoire. Still! I think there are SO many ways to put neck scarves in your hair. Adding them can really add a personal touch to your outfit, something that says you really thought about what you put on (even if it only takes a minute to do). I used a traditional style bandana in this post, but I’m on the hunt for a nice tropical print on with bright colours (pro-tip, thrift stores have a million and one neck scarves for $1 each). Brighter, bolder prints are a lot more ~in~ right now than the traditional bandana look, but I think what matters is how you style it, and the look you’re going for. Here are my four go-to, very quick and simple ways to put a Bandana in your hair.
This is the style you most often see – the one where if you google bandana hairstyles you get an overload of YouTube tutorials that show you the infinite ways you can wear your hair with this style… but not actually how to make it look nice.
The trick to the classic is to tuck in the ends. I can’t stand having the floppy bits on top of my head, it just screams 2006. The actual retro style of this never seems to have long floppy bits, sometimes theres a little end poking out but usually its quite tucked away. Verrrrry recently I realized the trick: spread the ends wide, pull them over the knot and then tuck them in on the other side (see picture 2). The end result?
There’s a cute little knot on the top of the bandana that looks a little like a bun! It’s not so big that it overpowers your face (like loose ends do), and it looks more like a cute little headband than anything else.
Another classic – the biker is basically a backwards version of the previous look. Instead of putting the bandana under your hair, you just tie it around your head over your hair. It’s a good alternative who find a bandana doesn’t fit nicely under their hairline and ends up pushing up a little bump of hair on the back of your hair. In this case I make sure that the bandana is nicely folded and looks really flat, and I think it helps that I have bangs underneath it.
It’s a look that’s maybe a little bit harder to style. A good jean or leather jacket would definitely ~go~ with it, but it might make you look like you’re dressing up for halloween. You really gotta pick your battles with this one. I think it’s probably the most flattering of all of them, so it’s a shame it’s so hard to style outfit-wise.
At first I was like ‘why does this look remind me SO MUCH of friends???’ and then I googled it and realized I had copied the look from Phoebe, how dare I! It’s SUCH a cute addition to a very casual ‘getting your hands dirty’ kind of outfit – the one you would wear to garden or paint or do anything outdoorsy and/or creative. It’s VERY phoebe, now that I think about it. Also one of my favourites to keep on the back burner.
Since I have short hair now, I’ve put my hair up into pig tails. It’s not my ~favourite~ look but I think it works with the bandana. In this case, you start with a completely open bandana, fold it once diagonally, then put it on your head by facing the top of the triangle towards the nape of your neck, and tying the two sides of the triangle under your hair.
Result??? Low-key Phoebe Buffay, high-key Little Red Riding Hood, at least in my case. I actually LOVED this look though, and I’ll definitely be repeating it the next time I don my overalls and head to work in the garden (which actually DOES happen, do I live in a fairy tale???).
I didn’t know what to call this one so it gets a SUPER sucky name. The gist of it is tying your bandana around your bun. For those of you with longer hair, you have two options: 1) Keep the bandana rolled up and tie it around your big ol’ bun a few times and then knot it, or 2) Only pull up half of your hair into the bun in that cute half up/half down look, that way the bun isn’t too big for this. How it works:
Open your folded bandana ONCE so it’s just a bit wider than usual, wide enough to fit over and around your bun. Then, wrap the ends overtop and around your covered bun, and then tie it.
In honour of Earth Day I thought I would share with you an eco-friendly gift guide. Whether you’re buying for someone who’s super up on the sustainable and ethically conscious consumer movement, or you yourself want to buy more eco-friendly even when gift giving, I’ve got you covered. As the environmental movement gets co-opted by consumer culture, we’re seeing more and more eco-friendly products for all kinds of different interests.
For the Beaty Lover
Those who love makeup will love, love, LOVE brands like RMS Beauty. Heralded by celebrities like Emma Watson, RMS Beauty has sustainable packaging, and is super ethically conscious in their manufacturing process. All of their products go through a serious ethical vetting process, they look at the ingredients, the testing, and the packaging to create the best, most ethical and environmentally friendly products out there. This brand is a bit on the ‘luxury’ side of the price scale, so if you’re looking for something more in your price range, have a browse around the online shop for Content Beauty. Content Beauty sources the best of the best when it comes to ethical makeup brands.
For those who are more into skincare, you can look no further than your local health store for products like witch hazel or rose water – but you’ll need to know their type of skin and what kind of products they like and need. A safer bet is a set of muslin face cloths or reusable cotton pads – I recently invested in some muslin cloths because I was sick of constantly having to replace my cotton pads, and then I realized that they were ALL ending up in a landfill (sometimes we have these stupid moments – OBVIOUSLY they were going there, but just how many *I* had sent there never really hit me until that moment). Muslin cloths are super cheap, I bought mine online for $10 on Amazon. They’re a soft and light fabric that you can use a few times and then throw in the wash with the rest of your laundry.
For the Lifestyle Lover
Or basically for anyone who loves homeware, is moving, or is just starting out on their own in life – going away to college, just moved into their own house or apartment. There are TONS of eco-friendly products for this kind of person. One of the most obvious is metal or glass straw (definitely go for metal if they have young children or are just a big clumsy). Again, you can get metal straws very affordably on Amazon, they usually come in packs with varying shapes, their own straw cleaner, and a pouch to carry them in. I just bought my sister some for her birthday last week! Another option is bamboo Tupperware – I recently found some in my local HomeSense, but you can also find them online from stores like Amazon and EcoSouLife.
Beeswax wraps are also a hit for some (but beeswax is not vegan, so avoid this for your vegan friends!). Beeswax wrap is essentially a reusable plastic wrap. They’re super easy to use, easy to wash and easy to get your hands on… maybe not the most exciting gift for some, but they come in cute prints! You can buy it online from Amazon or Well.ca.
For the Fashion Lover
I tend to hate buying clothes for other people, but if this is what you’re going for there are a few awesome brands you can check out. For the pricer stuff you can look online on Rêve en Vert or Reformation. For some more affordable options look at brands like eco-mono, Everlane, and Boody. Most of these brands do run of the mill, classic types of clothing. Boody, however, also has some work-out wear!
At the end of the day…
Whatever you do, just remember that there’s no perfect way to live an eco-friendly life. Not all of the products you buy will be 100% free of plastics, not all of them are going to come in purely recyclable packaging… it would be nice if they were and they did, but it’s not a perfect science! Just because not all of the products are perfect, doesn’t mean you have to forego making the effort, it doesn’t make the thought that you’re putting into what you’re using any less valuable. At the end of the day, we can all make little changes, and we can all push for a more environmentally friendly world, but we are not solely responsible in our individual lives. We should demand that the major corporations who are making the largest impact on pollution are held accountable, and that they also start making a genuine effort to do better. We can’t achieve success without both sides of the coin, so keep having thoughtful thoughts and demanding conversation!
Hola amigas! As promised, here is my second Cuba vlog AND! It’s edited in VSCO! Colour grading on my amateur youtube channel?! What?! I love it. What do you think? Did I go overboard? Do you like it better? I don’t know!!! Either way, come along for a little day of adventuring around Viñales and see everything the beautiful valley has to offer! I’m honestly SO happy we decided to travel here to stay for a few days rather than doing a day trip. It’s easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my entire life. I can’t believe how skeptical I was now, I thought it would be quite off the beaten track and hard to navigate but it was SO travel-friendly. I can’t say enough good things about it, so just watch the video and see for yourself!
Chilling with Che in Viñales | CUBA VLOGS - YouTube
I’m sure you know the drill by now but in case you don’t – each month I share a little ‘behind the scenes’ of my Instagram. This year all my Instagram captions are lyrics to a song that relates/has the right vibe to go with the picture. You know when you feel a connection between music and a memory or a place or a feeling? I thought I would stick to lyrics so I could ~maybe~ better communicate the feeling of the picture.
Are you guys even READY for all of the Cuba pics? I have ONE more to post tomorrow and then my theme is officially moving on. I’m already sad about it.
*note captions run from most recent to least recent, top to bottom, left to right*
you are in love FULLY describes that ~love~ feeling and that’s how I feel abt Cuba this song is the feeling like you’re building up to something and it’s awesome and wonderful and just everything did I appropriate tswift lyrics to fit the Cuban Revolution? Yes. Yes I did.
el capitol still doin it’s thing for 60 years under that embargo lyrics! that! FEEL! like! a! warm! island! hug! ‘say you fancy me not fancy stuff’ : this GORG colonial room (‘the gold room’) open for everyone to enjoy in the revolution museum in Havana
I held onto this trip HARD (as something to look forward to) to get me through a rough patch this winter, and the memories I made there still paint me golden tbh these lyrics are HILAR bc these vids posted were of our horseback riding tour. Steph for real got bruises. they were for real ‘party tattoos’ (thx dodie) the ‘fall from grace’ lyric is just supposed to fit with the church theme lol
all the liars are calling me one = propaganda campaign against Cuban revolutionaries after they won, nobodies heard from me for months = embargo, im doing better than I ever was = cuban people were for once the priority! ‘im shaking my head and locking the gates’ = this is an lol lyric bc it’s taken at the hotel Nacional which saw a LOT of shit in its day ‘you dont need to save me, but would you run away with me?’ PRETTY SELF EXPLANATORY
we still out here fighting the good fight we make them they don’t make us ‘there’s a yes in your head, gotta find where it’s at’ = I was SUPER anxious our first night/morning in Havana, I wanted to leave, but I got in the taxi to Viñales and it was therapeutic and by that evening I was settled and could have stayed in Cuba forever (funny how polar opposite I can be in 24 hours)
aka I want to go back here here’s a lil juxtaposition for ya, cause like it IS so Gatsby but also it’s SO not you (cuba) and me (canada) really ARE a big conversation
‘prohibition in curls’ get it bc the embargo I can pack up all my stuff and fly home but I won’t be the same person on the plane ride home as I was on the plane ride here ‘never caught up in the moment, always begging the past to stay’ = meant this as me with life, was not a commentary on the Cubans’ ability to keep a car running for over half a century
im drinking a piña colada so I quoted the song. im a simple woman. ‘that’s the way it was but that’s history (or not)’ – get it? cause American imperialism is gone but like the architecture and cars and everything look the so similar because of the embargo?? yes?? no?? ‘let the games begin’ = ARE YOU READY FOR ALL THE CUBA PICS? HERE, LOOK AT HAVANA, YOU’RE ABOUT TO SEE A LOT OF IT ON MY INSTA. CANT WAIT.
OK SO HERE’S MY ISSUE: Unless you guys follow me on Instagram you don’t know what the original captions are (and even if you do you prob won’t remember, I don’t even). So should I do this picture by picture? I think that would be TOO much, but sometimes the captions are too long to put under the set of 3 with a little extra explanation. Maybe I’ll pick ‘featured pictures’ and go into more detail? I probably won’t have as many pictures posted in April, I’ll be honest. We’ll see, let’s play it by ear. In the meantime let me know what you think and ALSO hit me up on Instagram pls let’s be insta friends!
Makeup is one of the hardest things to pack for when you’re traveling. You have to limit yourself to smaller products (if you’re not checking a bag – I never do), and you never want to overpack. Personally, when it comes to makeup and skincare I’d always rather overpack than under pack, but I hate unnecessarily bringing things that I don’t use, it’s just wasted space in my bag! Without further ado, these are the must-haves for a versatile travel-sized makeup bag.
I tend to only bring carry-ons because you’ll never catch me paying to check a bag, so this refers to the bag you’ll keep under the seat in front of you. I keep the makeup that I might want while traveling in this bag, and the ‘necessities’ because even though I don’t check a bag, I’m still paranoid all my stuff will disappear when it’s out of my line of sight. Generally, my go-to makeup products are concealer, lipstick, and mascara – these are small enough to keep in the backpack under my seat. If somehow my bigger bag does disappear, I know I can get by with just these three things.
This is where I pack all the makeup products that spiffy up my face. I generally try to keep it to minimum because there’s nothing I hate more than lugging something around that I’m not using. I trial my “face” with the makeup I’m bringing before I go to make sure it’s just right, and I try to bring things that I can use in more than one way. I bring a blush that is lip + cheek stain, that way it doubles as a lip colour (plus it lasts way longer than regular blush). I also pack a liquid highlighter, because, again, it lasts longer, I can double it as a eyeshadow highlight, AND I don’t have to run the risk of breaking a panned highlighter. I generally don’t pack any foundation but I only really get breakouts in specific areas, and I can cover them with concealer. Though airplane air is horrible on my skin, (if I’m going somewhere hot) I know the sun will makeup for it in the coming days. My skin looks SO much nicer when it’s had some sun, but everyone’s skin is different!
The most important thing in this bag is my primer – it’s the barrier between my face and my makeup, and the one thing that will prevent a breakout on days when all the walking makes me sweat through my makeup. Am I the only one who has this problem while travelling? Maybe. I don’t think so, but maybe. The primer ensures that not only does my makeup last better through that glorious glow (aka sweat), but I don’t wake up with a breakout the next day.
I pack a second concealer in my luggage as I usually use two different concealers – one to cover/correct, and another to highlight. I also pack one face palette and one eyeshadow palette, the face palette is my Cocoa Contour palette – it has bronzer/contour, and highlight/pressed powder all in one. The eyeshadow palette varies depending on what I’ve been using, last time I brought my Nars Wanted palette, but to be totally honest I could easily get by with just using the Cocoa Contour palette for eyeshadow too. I sometimes also pack a second mascara, just because I always use two in case one runs out or starts clumping my lashes.
The last time I traveled I packed a liquid eyeliner. Usually I never bother with liquid liner when travelling because it leaves a little residue the next day and makes me look more tired. On a day to day basis, I’m not okay with this because I don’t wear makeup every day, but I realized that on holidays I always wear makeup (all those pictures!), so I can easily cover the residue with concealer (this sounds gross, whoops)! PLUS, in my humble opinion, liner easily makes up for a full eyeshadow look. If I do a little wing it makes me look a little ‘fancier’ without a lot of effort, and I don’t need to use more than two shadows to give my eye more shape and definition.
Brows are important, they’re like the curtains of the face… or is that bangs? Whatever, they’re important. They frame the face. They make or break you. I’m big into natural looking brows, (aka my brows probably look atrocious to you because I don’t do anything to tame them, I just fill them in). I always bring a brow pencil to fill those suckers in, and a then top them with a brow mascara. Brow mascara is a must because there’s nothing more annoying to me than having my brows out of place, especially in pictures.
The last thing I bring is a handful of lip colours. I only bring matte lipsticks because they last the longest, so I just make sure to pack a lip balm to make up for the dryness. I like to have a red (it’s a must!) and a nude at the bare minimum. Adding a colour to your lip pulls a look together! No matter what you do to the rest of your face, it doesn’t look done unless you’ve got a lip on. Say all you’re wearing is concealer and mascara, but wait! Then you pop a red lip on and !BOOM! It looks intentional. It looks like you’re making a ~look~ when all you’re trying to do is the bare minimum. Red lipstick is magic I tell you!
The only ‘tool’ I bring is my eyelash curler. I have long lashes, but they’re really straight. There’s pretty much no point in me even wearing mascara without an eyelash curler, because you can hardly seen any difference! I don’t bring any brushes, and if I do it’s a two ended eyeshadow brush, but I try to just bring products that I can apply with my fingers. My contour palette has a brush in it for the contour, the only brush I really miss sometimes it the one I use to apply the light colour/pressed powder, I think in the future I’ll bring a brush for that, it’s pointless to try to do it with your fingers.
Essential to any travel makeup bag is remover. You do NOT want to sleep with your makeup on and run the risk of getting a break out. Last time I tried something different and got a 10 pack travel sized package of makeup wipes. I tend to really really hate makeup wipes because they sting my face and never take all the makeup off, but it was convenience over anything else. Next time, I’m going to bring a muslin cloth and a travel sized makeup remover – the kind you get when you’re picking samples at the check out at Sephora. I can’t decide if makeup wipes or travel sized plastic containers are worse for the environment. Thoughts? Is there an alternative I’m not thinking of?
This picture is 100% unfiltered, taken on my iPhone 6+ after a morning of sweating it up walking around downtown Havana. You can also get a good idea of what it looks like by watching my Cubavlogs!
What are your makeup must haves for traveling? Everyone’s skin has different needs, so do trial runs with what you’re bringing to make sure it works for you! There’s nothing worse than worrying about how you look when you’re traveling, or having skin problems and then having to try to find a pharmacy to help you out! Always make sure to bring and wear sunscreen when you’re traveling to sunny places, if not I just try to find makeup or moisturizers that have SPF in it (currently failing on this front…).
Hola amigas! I’m sure by now you VERY well know that I was recently on a trip to Cuba, aka one of the BEST things I’ve ever done. I was seriously already mentally planning my trip back when we were driving around the island. I initially planned on doing a LOT of filming while I was there but a big ol’ whack in the face of anxiety at the beginning of my trip put me off, and once I was back up to normal I was just to enamoured with the place to be bothered – sorry! I DID manage to vlog pretty much the whole time, I knew I would kick myself afterwards if I hadn’t. This is my FIRST Cuba Vlog, where I’m traveling from home (Thunder Bay) to Havana, spending the night there, and then going to Viñales. For a LOT of traveling, I still think it’s pretty good! Most of what you see here is Old Havana and our tour around the Viñales Valley – GORGEOUS place. It NEEDS to be on your Bucket List.
Havana to Viñales | CUBA VLOGS - YouTube
I’m proud of the editing but I JUST discovered that you can use VSCO to edit videos now, so I’ll FINALLY have some colour gradient editing on the upcoming Cuba vlogs!
I first got into the blogger scene because I loved reading about and learning about other peoples lives. (I’m super nosy that way) But in all seriousness, it was like getting a chance to meet a Taylor Swift song in person. You felt like you were seeing yourself in the people you were following, and you connected with them in the same way you connect with the lyrics in a T-Swift song after a heartbreak. The personal feel to a blog is something I feel like blogging has lost touch with. Up until now, ArcticSabrina has been pretty bleak on th personal front, apart from a few very sparsely uploaded personal posts, you guys don’t really get to know me. Maybe it’s super vain that I think you might like to, but whatever. At the very least these posts can be little check points in the story of me. My life right now is at a huge crossroads, it’s something I’ve been spending a lot of time working through, thinking about, and talking about, so I thought it would be the perfect time to let you guys in.
I feel like everyone has these moments. For a lot of people, it comes around the end of high school, when you’re first faced with the ‘well, what now?’ question. The ‘what am I going to do with my life? Am I going to like what I end up doing? If I don’t know now or if I don’t do something now, am I going to end up settling for something mundane? Or, even worse, something I hate?’ I always felt lucky that I skipped out on these anxieties in high school. My worries at 18 were not about what I wanted to do, but whether or not I would be enough to do it. I was lucky to be seeing a counsellor then who really helped put my life into perspective. Instead of trying to figure everything out, I just asked myself the question, what would I be happy failing at? What would I be happy studying, if there was no such thing as job security, financial security, or instant payback? I thought I wanted to be an actress, as so many 18 year olds do. And then I thought, would I still want to be an actress even if I wasn’t the best, even if I only worked in small time theatres and never really got recognized for my work? Essentially, I was asking what would I want to do if there was no one else involved. If it was just me and the world, what would I be? So I studied history.
And I loved it. My first year of uni was spent trying different things because that’s how my program was set up, and because I was told over and over and over how first time students always end up switching their major two or three times. I knew instantly that this was where I wanted to be. I succeeded best in my history classes not because I was determined to be successful or achieve great things, but because I was interested in the content and I genuinely thought it mattered that I learned it: exam or no exam. I’ve always felt so lucky to have found my passion right out of high school, but I’ve always known that the opportunities at the end of my undergrad were really open ended.
You might not think a history degree leaves you with a ton of options, but it really, really does. Big areas include working in public service, heritage (museums, art galleries, etc), politics and government, or going to graduate school. Right now, I have no idea which direction I’m headed.
There’s another piece of my puzzle that you might be familiar with: I’m 21 years old, 22 in July, and I’ve always lived at home. I decided last year, while watching Estée Lalonde’s ‘How I Moved to the U.K.’ video (and then reading Bloom) that I wanted to move to the U.K. I don’t think I had realized that this was a genuine possibility, and faced with the wealth of history and heritage sights across the pond, I thought it would be the perfect next step. Since then, I’ve convinced one of my best friends that she should also take her life abroad, and I’ve considered moving to France, Germany, and Ireland. My plan was initially to move and to work, so when I decided to apply to grad schools I only applied to universities overseas (University College Dublin – I’m in, University of Edinburgh – also in, and Cambridge – haven’t heard back yet). But one thing I’ve been faced with recently, now that I only have a month left of school, is that my plans from last year don’t fit with me like they did before. I’m only a year older, but I’ve done a lot of thinking and a lot of growing, my priorities, my passions, and my interests aren’t necessarily the same.
If I could go back to my high school question and ask myself: if it was you and the world what would you do? The answer is so simple. I would keep going to school. I’m not done learning, and I know that. But I also know that I don’t need to be in school to learn. I do however, need to be in school to contribute. I need to be in school, essentially, to learn how to be a historian, something that definitely does not have a pay out in the end. There aren’t really classes that I’m dying to take per se, but I have research I want to do and I have papers and books that I want to write. I know for the same reasons I knew when I was 18, that this is the right place for me.
There’s one heck of a ‘BUT’ coming up, and I know you know what it is: finances. I have been able to graduate from my Undergraduate degree debt free. It is an absolute blessing for me to be able to start my independent life at 21 years old, with a university degree, a heck of a lot of passion, and no debt. Not a lot of people my age are so privileged. If I go back to school, even for one year, I’m looking at $30,000-50,000CAD in debt. I could do my Masters at my local university debt-free, but it feels stagnant to me. I guess you could make the argument that I don’t really want it then, but I think it’s more than that. I think I need new professors, new minds and perspectives, and new resources to kickstart this next stage of my academic career. Right now, I’m planning on foregoing the whole thing, unless scholarships can take it down to the $20,000-30,000CAD range. So far, not so good. I’m competitive for getting into institutions, but I’m not competitive enough to be getting scholarships from them. It’s a tough blow.
So what now? I’m applying for jobs. I say that, and I haven’t even sent out one application yet. I don’t know 100% whether or not I’ll be at school in the fall, so summer student jobs are completely up in the air. Other bad news: I work for my university’s newspaper and I’ll be out of a job once school ends. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, you’re reading the words of a 21 year old, unemployed loser, living out of her parent’s basement. Seriously. I haven’t applied for jobs because everything seems so wide and open, and the more I think about it, the more I have my heart set on my research. So now I’m faced with the question: if I don’t go to uni, do I stay home, work as much as I can and then go on long haul travels, and hopefully get access to some archives, and learn the language I need to in order to reapply and complete my Masters degree with my research set and ready? Or do I get a job that I at least have the option of working up, and work on my language and research from there? All of this assuming I can get any old job in the first place.
The most frustrating thing about where I’m at is that I feel lost even though I know I’m not lost. I know exactly what I want to do, I know it’s meaningful, and I care so much about it, I just don’t know what the best way of achieving it is. I think that last part is up to fate in a way. I know a lot of people think the whole fate thing is complete nonsense, but I’ve gotten to the point recently where I’m doing everything I can, I’m sending out scholarship applications, looking for jobs then applying for them, and then I’m just… waiting. And everything else totally depends on people worlds away from me, and how they’re feeling that day, and where they want to put their money, and what kind of people they like. All of that is completely out of my control, so whatever ends up coming my way, it might not be exactly what I’m looking for and it most definitely won’t be perfect, but I feel like it’s fate.