Nicole is blogging...

I'm a college girl (University of Texas at Austin– Hook 'em) who drinks too much coffee & has lot of ideas. I love meeting new people, and if I have sent you a picture of my cat, you can consider us friends. I believe in the sharing of ideas & experiences, so I thought I'd put them here. Most content is self-generated, but I enjoy sharing the work of others as well. So get ready for some day-to-day novelty.

Hey there. It’s been awhile.

There have been a lot of big changes in my life recently, and it’s been keeping me pretty busy! Here’s a run through of what I’ve been up to… 

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NEW PLACE

When I got back from Paris in July, I had just a few weeks to pack up my old apartment and get ready to move into my new one! This is my fourth time moving since I started college, so I think it’s an understatement to say my family and I are exhausted of it. I owe them so much for helping me yet again!

Moving to a new space is always exciting but of course comes with various new challenges. I moved from the student-dominated area west of the university, referred to as “West Campus”, because I was tired of living with college kids (Does that mean I’m a grown up now?), plus we were paying too much for it.

I am now in an area north of the university called Hyde Park, which is a very old but charming and peaceful part of town, occupied by fun businesses, local families, senior citizens, and college students alike. It’s very “Austin”. There are definitely definitive trade offs– although this area is more laid back and enjoyable and it is more affordable to live alone (which I LOVE), most of the homes and apartment buildings are very, very old. I have faced several ongoing issues with my apartment (ranging from broken appliances to serious bug problems), but on the bright side, I am now extremely handy and can fix just about anything! My fear of insects has also been almost completely eradicated. It’s all part of the real-world growing up thing, right? I’m building character and acquiring valuable life skills– and learning how to work with what I got!

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NEW GUY

A few weeks ago, I started dating my best friend, which is crazy and I still can’t believe how incredibly lucky I am. Initially, it came as a surprise, but in the end it makes perfect sense. His name is Christian and we met a little over two years ago when we were both working at The Daily Texan (UT’s student-run newspaper). While our work definitely brought us closer, I think our deep respect and love for each other is what kept us such close friends for these past few years, even after I left the newspaper. From the day I met him, I admired his ambition, work ethic, natural ability to be a leader, and genuine kindness.

He recently graduated with the first class of UT’s new Business Analytics Graduate Program at the age of 21 (his undergrad was in Journalism, also at UT) and accepted a full-time job offer as a Data Analytics Developer at General Motors here in Austin. He makes me so proud and inspires me every single day. I believe that we really motivate each other to be the best people we can be, and I love who I am when I am with him. 

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NEW DEGREE

Studying international marketing, negotiations, and finance abroad this summer was such an incredible experience for many reasons– one of them being that I discovered how much more I wanted to learn and grow as both a student and professional. Last semester, I applied to the other competitive track in the Advertising department of the Moody College of Communications (TexasMedia), and found out that I had been accepted in the summer. It was a last minute decision that I made, just going with my gut, and I am so incredibly happy that it all worked out! We are working on some really exciting projects with REAL clients! 

So now I am completing the Media sequence in addition to the Texas Creative sequence, which I think will really help me be the most well rounded adverting professional I can be. And in order to continue developing my newly discovered business mind, I also decided to add a Business Foundations Certificate from the McCombs School of Business on to my degree. Needless to say, this is going to be a very busy and challenging but highly rewarding senior year for me. I’m so excited! 

P.S. You can read more about my academic career and professional pursuits so far on my official website! 

Happy 23rd birthday to the best ‘lil big bro a girl could ask for. I thought I’d share this picture of the cake I made for him when he and my parents came to visit me in Austin this past weekend! We went out for lunch and it was a great time. I can’t believe my kid brother is a grown up… I mean, have you seen that facial hair? (Just kidding Ryan!)

But seriously, my brother has taught me so much about living life freely and loving others without reservation or judgement. He is truly a special one. Here’s to many more birthdays to come!

it’s a beautiful world

Today, I am taking a break from study abroad-related posts to share some videos. I am currently doing research in order to find a relevant and meaningful topic for a marketing paper I have to write, and I’m looking into the responsibilities marketers and advertisers– particularly in the beauty industry– have towards girls and women.

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We are all aware of some of the unrealistic expectations and unattainable standards the beauty industry has curated for women (and to a degree, men) over the course of several generations. At the same time, we are also very aware of recent attempts at change in those ways of thinking in an attempt to positively change the way females think about beauty and how that affects their self esteem.

These attempts at change are made by several key players, including popular artists, advertisers, and even normal, everyday women and girls. I recently came across this music video for the song “Try” by Colbie Caillat, and I can’t stop listening to it. The most important takeaway (for me, at least) – “Do you like you?”.  

Of course, there is more to beauty, self esteem, and being a young girl or woman than just physical appearances. It is influenced not just by someone’s own perceptions of themselves, but also how they are seen by others. This ad by Always, posted on YouTube on June 26, went viral almost immediately, because it reminds us of just that. 

Confidence is so beautiful, and everyone deserves to feel beautiful. Stereotypes destroy that. When did “like a girl” become an insult? At the same time, “like a boy” can be a insult. There are unrealistic expectations and unfair stereotypes out there for men. Same for transgender people. “Like” anything can be an insult. For me, the most important takeaway in this clip is the advice, not just to girls, but to anyone striving to feel beautiful and confident in themselves– “Keep doing it, ‘cus it’s working.”. 

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One of the most challenging things to do as human beings can be finding beauty in everything & everyone. Why is that? I know I am grateful for the celebrities, advertisers, spokespeople, and everyday people in my life who remind me to do it. It makes me happier. 

Our society is trying to change our perception of beauty, and that is a good thing. We owe that to ourselves. But is it working? You can share these videos on your social networks, talk about them at work or amongst friends and family, or hit a “Like” button. But are you letting them change the way you think about and perceive beauty in our world? Is this push for change actually working?

Is this the topic of my marketing research paper? Maybe. It’s definitely something to think about.

Exploring the le Marias, we found quite a few hidden gems, including the park Place Des Vosges. One of my favorite things about Paris is the hundreds of little gardens & parks tucked alway in the maze of the city streets!

Parisian views! Top photo is on top of l’Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Élysees. Everything else is from la Tour Eiffel. Yes, I went to the VERY top!

Took this photo on my last morning at my dorm, Résidence Vivaldi, in Paris. It’s a pretty sweet view from the top! I’ll never forget my time here.

These pictures from Rome are long over due– and unfortunately there are not many of them, as my phone was stolen my first day in the city– but I’m so happy to be able to share them!


The top photo is from my visit the Colosseum on the first day. I travelled with three other girls from my program, and we also saw the Roman Forum & ruins, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Novana, Trevi Fountain (which was unfortunately undergoing renovations, so a lot of scaffolding and no running water), the Pantheon, and Piazza Venezia, where we got to watch the Italian World Cup match on a big screen that was set of in the center of the square. The middle left photo is from Piazza Venezia with my roommate during halftime! We spent the entire next day touring Vatican City, which was so incredible (middle right photo). That night, I met up with one of my really good friends who is also studying abroad in Italy! I got to meet her host mom, see where is has been living, and eat some amazing Italian gelato! We went out later that night to explore the lively streets of Rome (bottom right photo). One of the most fascinating things about the city is the fact that people live out their everyday lives amongst these ancient buildings & ruins– alongside thousands of years of history. So, despite being pickpocketed, Rome was truly an incredible experience!

More from Versailles Gardens–

Top photo is the group of girls I went to Amsterdam with, bottom photo is the group of girls I have been spending most of my time with in the program! In addition to our program being overseas, I love how culturally diverse we are! We have girls representing for India, Nicaragua, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, and all over the United States! (It also makes watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup a ton of fun!)

Le Château et le Jardin de Versailles! There will definitely be more photos of this to come– my favorite cultural excursion in the program so far! The best part was just getting lost in the gardens. There’s nothing else like it in the world. 

More from around Paris!

Top right photo– L’Arc de Triopmhe. I have yet to climb to the top!

Top left photo– the fountain from the scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Ann Hathaway tosses her phone into the water! One of my favorite movies!

Middle photos– La Basilique Scaré Coeur. Yes, I climbed that hill. Yes, it was so worth it! The views of Montmartre from Sacré Coeur were wonderful, and the tiny cobble stone streets winding down that hill are absolutely magical. It’s like being in another world.  

Bottom right photo– the infamous Moulin Rouge of Montmartre! 

Day trip to Amsterdam over the weekend {2 weeks ago}!

We explored the charming city streets & canals from sun-up to sun-down. We went on a boat tour and enjoyed some local cuisine– I even tried a beer and liked it! My favorite highlights were probably Dam Square and Vondelpark. And of course all of the tulips from the countryside that are brought into the colorful markets in the city center– mom, I have something special for you when you arrive in Paris! 

So sorry about my lack of recent posts…

~ UPDATE TO THIS POST ~

I was able to locate all of mobile photos in my iPhotos application thanks to iCloud synching! You’ve got to love technology!!! Photos coming soon! 

ORIGINAL POST: 

I love being able to share my study abroad experience on this blog, so I am devastated to say that my photo posts will be very limited for the rest of my study abroad experience. Unfortunately, I was pickpocketed in Rome and my cell phone was stolen right out of my bag. That was my main source of photos for this blog, as I use my Canon DSLR camera to take large amounts of photos that would be very difficult for me to sort through and edit quickly (and I am not in any of those photos anyways). I will download, sort through, and edit those pictures to post eventually, but for now I am focusing on continuing to enjoy my time here, take more photos, and of course focus on school! 

That being said, please do not text or call my old phone number. I will be getting a new one in a few weeks! 

Regardless of that unfortunate incident, I am still having an incredible time in Europe! Last weekend, I flew to Rome for 3 days, and the weekend before I took a bus to Amsterdam for a day trip. Back in Paris, I took a train out to Versailles for a lovely afternoon. I will try to scavenge around the web for pictures from my friends to post here! 

As I mentioned in my previous post, it has become so very easy to loose track of time in the magnificent city of Paris! From now on, I’ll just post a collection of my favorite shots from each week {or as frequently as I can}! I’ve also been putting the camera/phone down more and soaking in this once-in-a-lifetime experience! 

The top photo was a shot from one of the windows of my school {ESCP} overlooking the city.

Underneath that is a photo from a wine & gelato night with the girls on the lawn in front of la Tour Eiffel!

And finally, I had to show some love for the incredible food I have gotten to indulge in here!

Top left: The most beautiful cappuccino I have ever been served from our favorite café in our neighborhood.

Top right: The famous Amorino’s flower-shaped gelato!

Bottom left: une tarte au citron {lemon tart}. One of my favorites! 

Bottom right: The most incredible cheese ravioli I have ever had, also from our café. We are very loyal to that café and have made friends with the waitstaff there! 

It’s officially week 3 in Paris! I have lost track of the days, and the next few posts will be a little late– I’ve been so busy! Here are some photos from my visit to the Louvre. We were there for over 4 hours a just saw a small part of this incredibly large and equally impressive museum, including Napoleon’s apartment, the paintings, including the Mona Lisa {Bien sûr! / Of course!}, and sculptures. 

Trip to Le Musée d’Orsay! Some of my favorite art in the whole world! I especially enjoyed the sculptor Rodin and all of the French Impressionism, including the Degas ballerinas. 

{Top photo is dinner & drinks on the banks of the Seine with the girls!}