Thursday, December 31, 2015

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I’ve honestly put off this post because to be honest I’m not really sure how I am going to summarize 2015 in just one post. 2015 has to be the best year yet and although I am so sad for it to be over, I am so thankful for all the memories I made and the things God provided me with in the last 12 months!

2015 is definitely going to give 2016 a run for it’s money because I’m not sure how anything could live up to the year I just had, but I’m so excited to see what this new year has in store and what the future holds!

I’m excited to look back through this incredible year and remember some of my favorite moments.


I started off the year with a busy busy semester. It was my first time going through sorority recruitment on the other side! While the long days that recruitment entails aren’t the most fun, Bid Day always makes everything worth it. Nothing compares to seeing girls join our sisterhood and the smiles on their face that day. Definitely, one of my favorite events of the Spring Semester.


I GOT MY LITTLE. (and she’s oh so perfect). I met Mary all the way back in October before she had even gone through recruitment and it was love at first sight. She was wearing a bow in her hair and I knew she had to be mine! When she ran into my arms on Big Little Reveal day I couldn’t have been happier. Isn't she just the cutest?!


In March I headed home for my Spring Break. I needed time to catch up on sleep and home cooked food. I had a really laid back Spring Break at home and really needed that break from the high stress environment at school. Knowing how much I was going to be gone in the months following, staying home for the week was exactly what I needed.


I entered into a new decade! I turned 20 (holy cow!) on the 23rd of April! On the morning of my birthday by my best friends at school woke me up (very early) and we headed up to a spot not too far from campus called Pretty Place to watch the sunrise! It was a definitely a birthday, I’ll never ever forget.


I spent 3 weeks in May taking a class with 18 other girls from my school in Italy! Furman has short (optional) semesters in May called MayX’s and you can take 3 week classes on campus or out of the country! We traveled throughout Italy for 3 weeks and got to explore new cities while learning so much! It gave me a great taste of Italy and made me excited to spend the following semester there!

June + July

I flew straight from Italy after my 3 week class to Paris for my internship. Writing about it still seems so surreal to me. I worked 5 days a week and couldn’t have been luckier with my internship. I absolutely loved my job, learned so much about myself, and strolling around Paris everyday was a dream come true for me. Both of my parents got to come and visit me while in Paris and it was fun to show them around. I grew a lot as a person in those 2 months and learned how to live alone even in a foreign city (where I don't speak the language)!


After being gone for 3 months I was looking forward to a month at home before I headed back to Italy for my semester abroad! I spent a lot of time catching up with family, saw my friends, and unpacked (which felt like it took an entire month)!


I boarded the flight with 18 other Furman students (some I knew, some I didn’t!) to a small town Italy! It took a few weeks to get adjusted to my new surroundings and figure everything out but I knew a great adventure was just around the corner!

October + November

Finally all settled in we started to travel on the weekends! I learned a lot about how to balance my time doing school work and traveling. We made the best use of time over there and visited 8 countries and saw so many new cities! Nothing compared to jetting off to a new place every weekend. My good friend Kayla (who I met the first day of my freshman year!) came with me. She was already one of my closest fiends at school but it was so special to share this experience together. I don’t know if I could have done it without her! It still feels like a dream looking back on the pictures!


After a great semester full of adventure we headed home. While I loved every moment, nothing compares to home. I couldn’t wait to hug my family and indulge in all my American favorites (like chick fil a of course!)!


If I could summarize 2015 in one word it would probably be Adventure. I spent about half of 2015 out of the country and pushed myself out of my comfort zone so many times. I’m proud of myself for everything I accomplished and am so thankful on all the sweet memories I can look back on.

I truly can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.

Happy New Year!





Thursday, December 24, 2015

Last Minute Gifts for Everyone!

Christmas Eve has to be one of my favorite days of the year. The anticipation, the holiday spirit, the quality family time.

Christmas Eve is probably just as exciting for me as Christmas day. Most Christmas Eve’s we don’t typically have anything super special planned during the day, but at night we always go to church and then come home and eat a big meal with a few other families. After eating way too much ham and cheesy potatoes, and then outside and spread reindeer food (fun craft for little kids!), which includes dry oats and glitter mixed together! The story behind it is that the reindeer will be guided by the glitter and then they can eat the oats! It’s a tradition we take very seriously in our household.

Occasionally, on Christmas Eve, I will run out and do last minute gift shopping. I always regret it the second I turn into the parking lot and spend at least 20 minutes finding a parking spot! However, some of the best gifts are the ones you can’t find in a store! You can buy some of the most meaningful gifts online and there are so many options that don’t require shipping! So don’t panic, you still have tons of options to get your family a gift that they’ll remember forever!

For your mom:

Moms are some of the most deserving people out there! Plus who wouldn’t want a gift certificate to get their nails, toes and a facial ?!

My mom and I both love musicals! We have a few really great theaters in the Raleigh area that get great productions too!

3. Framed Photos
This is always my go to gift for anyone. I love pictures and I have so many framed throughout my dorm room. You can easily get your favorite picture of you and your mom printed online and most of the time Walgreens will have it printed in a matter of hours! You can also get posters and other cool products printed too!
P.S. Target always has cute affordable frames!

For your dad:

1. Sporting Even Tickets
Is your dad super obsessed with a certain sports team? Use a site like Ticketmaster to buy him tickets to a game!

2. Concert Tickets
My dad loves music, way more than sports! So a few years ago my family got him tickets to go see his favorite band U2. The expression on his face when he read the tickets was priceless! Check out Ticketmaster for great concert options too!

For your sister:

1. Buy a magazine subscription
I have a few magazine subscriptions that I've gotten as gifts and I love all of them. I typically pick up my mail and by the time I get back to my dorm room, I’ve already finished going through the entire magazine! But let’s be real, who doesn't love getting mail?! Here are a few links to my favorites:

2. Monthly Beauty Subscription

  Because who wouldn't want to get a few new nail polishes every month?!

Julep | Ipsy

For your bother:

My brother loves our Netflix subscription. It’s fun to be able to go back and watch episodes of your favorite T.V. shows at any time and plus they have great movies options as well! Also perfect for any college student!

2. Pandora / Spotify Subscription
Does your brother love music? If so, it’s the perfect gift! I use Pandora almost every day when I’m at school doing my homework and the commercials get so annoying (and I always) run out of skips. With a subscription you don’t have to worry about those 30 second commercials!
For the entire family:
1.     Buy an experience on GroupOn!
My family has always loved doing adventurous things together. We've gone Zip lining multiple times, white water rafting (oh you should have seen the laughs we got out of this one), we've been on Segway tours! All of these things are great options and so much fun to do together. The memories you make will be priceless! Way better than anything you could buy in a store.

For someone special:
Secretly I’ve always wanted to do this. It’s surprisingly super affordable and who wouldn’t want to get a star named in their honor?!

I hope this gives you some ideas! Sometimes it’s the things you can’t buy in a store that make for the greatest gifts! So don’t panic if you haven’t bought anything yet. Plus remember, if you really want to surprise someone usually local animal shelters are open on Christmas eve, and who wouldn’t want to open a cute little puppy or kitten on Christmas morning?! Just another idea ;)

Wishing everyone a great holiday season!




Monday, December 21, 2015

Party Dresses

Let's be honest, party dresses are always one my favorite part of the holidays. 

The glitter, the bows, the shine, does it really get much better than that?! Most of the time, I lust over all the beautiful holiday dresses in all the fabulous department stores and dream about the holiday parties (I'm not invited too) that I could wear them to. I envision the perfect accessories and shoes that would go with them and which clutch I would get to match. 

Andddddd...then I come back to reality and realize that I most likely won't be attending any fancy holiday parties that will require dresses like these for probably another few years....a girl can dream (and look around) though right?! 

Thinking more realistically, I will need a dress for Christmas eve mass! I always love this tradition and look forward to getting all dolled up and decked out in red and plaid! Now to choose a dress....

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 




Saturday, December 19, 2015


As always the weeks before Christmas are always busy. Just getting home from Italy I'm still trying to catch up on little things (like haircuts and laundry!). I've spend a lot of time with my family, going to my brothers basketball games and bring my other brother chick-fil-a for lunch (aren't I just the sweetest sister?!). 

Last weekend I drove to Furman to visit all my friends who I missed so much while I was gone! We had a little Christmas party in my apt. and it was a blast catching up with everyone! I just spent the weekend there and drove back home on Sunday, without a stop at the Kate Spade outlet on the way home of course ;) . 

Late Thursday night D flew into town (reunion went a little like this) after finishing her exams!! I'm so excited to have her here for a few days before Christmas to catch up and celebrate some of our favorite Christmas traditions together (like watching Eloise!!). It's crazy that's we've been friends now since 8th grade and we're just as close as we were when we were 13 even though we live on the opposite side of the country!

Did you hear Netflix released a trailer for the new Full House mini series?! I'm pumped!

This was on my Christmas list but I'm really hoping Santa will maybe bring it to me :) 

2 Videos you must watch: I was in tears during this one & and this one of my time abroad!

I just got this blanket from the Furbish store in Raleigh for my new room at school and I'm in LOVE!

& since D is a way better cook than me, I'm making her bake this for me (shhh she doesn't know yet) 

What has been on your radar this week??




Friday, December 18, 2015

Studying Abroad Reflection

I had a lot of time to reflect upon my last 4 months studying abroad as we sat on the runway for 4 hours waiting to take off (yeah…not fun). I had 9 more hours after take off to think about what the last 4 months (or actually more like 3 1/2) have meant to me.

It was without a doubt, a semester to remember. Similar to the 10 hour turned 14 plane hour ride home, it wasn’t at all what I expected, nor was it without some turbulence along the way. While I got to travel almost every weekend and go on so many new adventures, there was so much more to my experience than the Instagram pictures you saw.  

Spending the summer alone in Paris, luckily kind of prepared me for what to expect. The program I did was located in Northern Italy at the base of the Alps about an hour north of Venice. There were 18 of us Furman students (including one of my closest friends Kayla!) as well as 40 other kids from schools across the country. It was such a cool opportunity to meet kids from other colleges, but also get to know kids from Furman better who I didn’t know very well before!

While the view out my window reminded me of a dream, it was also a reminder of how remote our location was in Italy.  Tiny town isn’t an appropriate description; we were in a teeny tiny town (I’m talking no grocery store). It definitely took some time to get used to, but it was also a nice reminder of how wonderful a simple life can be. I got to go on runs through the vineyards with a view of the alps and it was a nice break from the usual fast paced Furman atmosphere (even though I love Furman so much).

While I am a HUGE advocate that everyone should have some kind of study abroad experience, it was definitely not all butterflies and bliss. I missed my family and there were some times of FOMO. I missed homecoming, football tailgating, and 2 of my sorority functions. But, at the same time I was getting to hop from country to country every weekend eating my heart out and I got to see sites I have always dreamed about!!! I’d say it was worth it… J.  It’s not always easy, but I promise it’s worth it.

I will be the first to admit it was a break that was much needed. I was exhausted from the rigorous Furman workload and needed some time away doing something I loved (traveling!!). Being away for a semester made me appreciate what I had back at Furman even more. It deepened my love of Furman even more and I realized how much the friends I have made in college mean to me. It also made coming home even more fun! I’m so thankful that I have friends and family and a beautiful campus that makes coming home exciting rather than disappointing.

Although it wasn’t all glamour and glitter. While it may have looked like we just pranced around Europe for 3 months there were some not so nice hostels and lots of weekdays cooped up in my small dorm room trying to get my work down so I wouldn’t have to worry over the weekend.
Over all though, it was a semester to remember. I visited 8 countries in 3 months and visited some of my favorite places in Europe and some places I had never been before! I’ve known that I wanted to study abroad for as long as I can remember. Italy fulfilled my wildest dreams and I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity.

We made the effort to take a ton of pictures everywhere we went! I also brought my brother's GoPro (thanks Christopher!!) and took a video in every place we went!

To read about everywhere I went!:

If you have any questions about studying abroad or are hesitate about it or want to know more details about my trips, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions! (




Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stocking Stuffers

I always giggle when I glance over at our stockings hanging from the mantle. My mom bought mine and my middle brother, Nick's from a craft fair when we were both really young. They have our names embroidered at the top and they look very similar with the small exception that mine is blue and Nick's is green. 

Well you see when my youngest brother Christopher was born, he needed a stocking. The lady who made Nick and I's was unfortunately not making them anymore so Christopher's got a random one that looks very mismatched and out of place. I joke with him that it's a sign he doesn't belong but it's now become a staple Christmas decoration in our house. The mismatched stocking.

In our house we write Santa a note every year requesting that he hides our stockings (we bribe him with extra cookies). And every year they ironically they get increasingly harder and harder to find. It becomes a hunt every year who can find their first. It makes a fun way to start the morning! 

Need more ideas?




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Christmas List

I never really made Christmas lists growing up. Luckily my mom and Santa has always been pretty good at picking out things I would like. But I feel like as I get old the list in my head becomes shorter, but more expensive (sorry mom and dad!). It usually mostly consists of clothes or shoes now rather than American Girl Dolls and Polly Pockets. 

This year is going to be a quieter Christmas at the Hessen house. My dad is unfortunately not going to be here for the Holidays, but on the plus side my grandparents are driving down and my best friend D is even coming this week to spend some time here too!! 

So while my main Christmas present this year was my semester in Italy (Europe is not exactly the cheapest place to live!!), here are a few things I may have put a buzz in Santa's ear about. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 

shop some of my other favorites:




Monday, December 14, 2015

German Christmas Markets

Germany was the last stop on our European tour. It was our last weekend before finals and our last weekend before we hopped on a plane back to the states.

It was a hop, skip and a jump (or a plane ride) to a small town in Germany where Kayla and I would be spending Thanksgiving. We ate our little hearts out with family friends who live in Germany. It was a great reunion with dear friends we met while living there!

After spending Thanksgiving in a small town in Germany and visiting their Christmas market, we took the train to Munich where we spent 2 days hopping from Christmas market to Christmas market.

Germany has a special place in my heart since I spent 3 years when I was in middle school living there. In many ways, it felt like going home. I missed visiting the Christmas markets every year and not to mention the sweet German people. It was a special 3 years for my family so going back to a country I love and getting to visit all the Christmas markets was one of my favorite trips.   

It was truly a magical, snowy, weekend. 





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