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Summertime in Chicago | A Reflection

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Summertime in Chicago | A Reflection

Some say that labor day weekend is a farewell to summer, and boy am I sad to hear that. I arrived in Chicago in the dead of Winter, the 30th of December. It was about -14 degrees celcius, there was snow on the ground and to say 'sure you wouldn't be long getting frostbit' was an absolute understatement. I got a little job to keep me going where I on a daily basis I was met with the words 'just wait until summer, summertime in Chicago is THE BEST' and boy were they right.
The days got longer, sun got stronger and all of a sudden it was 30 degrees, restaurants had their doors open and of course the place was streaming with Irish. The J1's had hopped off the plane, piled their air mattresses high and we hit Joe's most Tuesdays because by the Monday evening I had forgotten how absolutely tragic the hangover was sitting in work from 8:30 - 5 the Wednesday previous. The J1 season had gotten off to a bad start for me, my first Joe's experience I was far too sober for if you ask me. $2 pitchers of Bud Lite and a burst of freedom for some young Irish boys just aren't a great mix. I came out looking like I had just showered in Bud Lite to meet two very rude Irish (which we won't talk about today) but luckily, it was all up from there and I can feel myself starting to miss the absolute dive that is Joe's on Weed St.
For me, summer started when I arrived home from my trip to Ireland. My parent's came to visit the day after and we wined, dined and acted like tourists for the week. It was bloody lovely to spend some quality time with them since we now obviously live so far away from each other. It's so easy to catch up over Whatsapp but it doesn't beat some quality time. Then my best friend Lizzy visited the week after, same thing- more eating, drinking and exploring Chicago which was so much fun.

The 4th of July came and went which we spent watching the fireworks on Navy Pier which was followed by (probably one of the best trips of my life) VEGAS! Now while I have a whole blog post written on it already, I can't help but touch on it again. Between looking rough at the pool parties while some absolute queens looked fabulous in their Gucci belt's and heels to meeting Olly Murs, it was so much fun. It's insane to think we saw Calvin Harris, The Chainsmokers and Kygo all within 3 days of each other, but thats the beauty of Vegas. It really is a girls world over there so if you're heading over, just know you only need to flash a smile and you'll be straight into VIP! For more tips and tricks and to hear more about what we got up to, make sure to check out my blog post here.

My second trip of the year fell at the end of July with a very spur of the moment trip to San Diego. I had my reservations about going, I had such an amazing time there before but I was worried it wouldn't how I remembered it. I was worried I had almost romanticised it and it just would be the same as when I lived there in 2016. But let me tell you, it was! I was only there for about 36 hours but I fell in love with the city all over again. I met my cousin Emma and her three friends there as they spent about 2 and a half weeks there in this Airbnb. We drank, went to Seaport Village, got acai bowls and lay on the beach, I had the perfect day there. Before I knew it I was whisked off to the airport yet again but with a firm belief that San Diego cannot be beaten and a low key regret that I didn't do my graduate visa there haha.

Following that was my two day stint at Lollapolooza where Bruno Mars absolutely rocked the main stage. My cousin Emma then came to visit me for the week where we went on jet skis and got the gals together so we could drunkenly go and see Mamma Mia 2 where we were the only ones in the screening, ideal for us as we know ALL the words.

Towards the end of August I got free tickets to a Cubs baseball game in Wrigley Field where Niamh and I had AMAZING seats. I got to meet David Dobrik after the game, he was just standing outside a bar (yes I fangirled and yes I'm a 10 year old boy haha).

Finishing off the summer, I had to bid Wicker Park goodbye as my lease came to an end and move across town to Wrigleyville with the girls.

This was just a little summery of my summer here in the windy city. My J1 graduate visa has been a whirlwind so far and I feel like I need to share it more here on my blog. Anyway, here's to cosy knits, chelsea boots and hot coffees- roll on fall (lol sorry I've turned v obnoxiously American).

The Ultimate Guide To A Girls Weekend in Las Vegas

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Ultimate Guide To A Girls Weekend in Las Vegas
Aka your Vegas Travel Guide! Ah Vegas, the one place in the world where the gals rule the turf. Some people give out about the gender inequality there but with all of the sexism and pay inequality everywhere else in the world, move over lads and give us girls one place to be superior. Now if you're planning a trip to Viva Las Vegas, look no further. I'm here to tell you things to do, where to stay and of course all of the tricks and tips about how to have the best time in sin city.



//WHERE TO STAY

On my recent trip to Vegas, I stayed in honestly the perfect hotel for a girls trip. I stayed in Bally's Hotel which was on Flamingo Road (yes the famous road Tupac got shot on) and which is owned by Caesars. Let me tell you why it was the best.

  • We got the most AMAZING view from our room (The Bellagio Fountain, the Eiffel Tower and the whole strip down to the MGM, it was just magical).
  • The room was cheap and cheerful- working out at about $111 between 6 for 4 nights in the middle of summer which is a really good price for being on the strip. As it wasn't one of the really big names the price was lower but the hotel itself still had the same effect featuring a nice pool, casino and a food court.
  • It is in a perfect location. It is opposite Caesars Palace and the Bellagio- basically in the very middle of the strip which made it very handy to walk from place to place (if we could stand the heat lol). I stayed in the MGM before and although it was a fab hotel and very easy to get to see Calvin Harris (as Wet Republic and Omnia Nightclub are both in the MGM), it was just too far down the strip to walk up and experience a good few of the sights.

//NIGHTLIFE

So let's be honest- we went for the nightlife. In the four days we spent there we saw Kygo, Calvin Harris and The Chainsmokers all for free, yep you heard that right. I'll break it down step by step.

GO WITH A GROUP OF GIRLS
11 of us gals went to Vegas together and it couldn't have been more perfect. As I said before, girls rule Vegas (luckily for us) and as a result we got in free everywhere and didn't have to pay for drink as we were on the guest lists and we sweet talked our way into VIP.. Not too difficult to do, even for an awkward soul like me. To get the drink, the first night we ended up talking to these guys in VIP asking them how to go about getting bottle service and acting very casual as they said a cool $3000 when it should have been $9000.. When another group swooped in and took the table 'we were after' then they offered us a drink and that was that! The rest of the weekend ended up following a similar path of finding our way into VIP because honestly it isn't difficult once you have a bit of dutch courage!

SO HOW DO YOU GET GUEST LIST?
I organised guest list for us all for all of the events before we even arrived. I simply searched 'Wet Republic' on Instagram and a load of reps pop up. It seems weird, but all you have to do is DM them on Instagram or give them a text saying the dates you're arriving and how many guys and girls will be there. As I have said before and I'll say it again, they just want girls. Guys must be prepared to pay in ($75 into Calvin @ Wet Republic) but if your group of gals gets in there early (ish) and are on guest list, then you're sorted! If you don't know what DJs or artists are playing the weekend you're going then the rep will let you know and sort it all out for you!

KYGO
We saw Kygo in Encore Beach Club which was in the beautiful Wynn Hotel in Vegas. Unfortunately I think the weekend we went (6th of July 2018) was his last show in Vegas of the summer but it was so fun and in such a cool venue.


CALVIN HARRIS @ WET REPUBLIC
If you're going to Vegas, you HAVE to hit a pool party, they are nothing like you have experienced before. Some people go looking seriously stunning but if you want to let loose a bit and really enjoy yourself when Calvin comes on then prepare to come out looking rough! If you want a drink, be prepared to pay a lovely $50 for a huge drink (that basically counts at 4) and $60 for a locker to put your things in. I would recommend getting a locker between a few of you if you want your phone and belongings to be safe and sound. There is an option to buy $15 waterproof pouches to put around your neck which didn't fail any of the girls but I'm sure could be bought for about $3 on Amazon before you go lol. Honestly, an amazing experience!

CHAINSMOKERS @ ENCORE
For our last night we ended up at Encore again but this time for another pool party.. More reasonably priced at $25 for an essential locker and absolutely crazy all round. I won't say too much other than we met Olly Murs and honestly had another amazing night.

//THINGS TO DO

As we went out and drank quite a bit and chilled by the pool, we didn't do a whole lot of sightseeing but this is what we did do and what I'd recommend.
  • Welcome to Las Vegas sign - the queues were crazy but you just have to get a picture when you come to Vegas.
  • The Venetian - The shops at this hotel are just insane! You'd swear you were in Italy because you can even get a gondola ride through the 'streets'.
  • Just roam through all of the amazing hotels.
  • I didn't go but I've heard the MOB museum is really good.
  • Another thing I didn't do was Fremont Street- full of shops bars and it is meant to be really good.
  • If you want to leave the city for the day- head out to the Grand Canyon which is unbelievably breathtaking!

//FOOD

Honestly, I can't say we did much 'fine dining' as we mainly stuck to slices of pizza in the food court but we did try the famous West Coast 'In-n-Out' which was basically the same as Five Guys but still pretty good!

Aaaand I think that is everything! Let me know if you have any questions, I'd be happy to help and if you're thinking about going to Vegas, do it! There is something for everyone and it is a surreal experience.

Short & Sweet - A Trip Home to Remember

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Short & Sweet - A Trip Home to Remember
After a manic 5 months of living in CHI, it's safe to say that I was well and truly caught up in it all. Pottering along to work everyday which kept me entertained to say the least, followed by the gym then editing videos. The weekends of consisted of a lot of Four Loko which ended up in the ultimate fear on Sunday which was well deserved after a night which only finished up at 7am.

I was away from Ireland, aware but very detached from all that was going on.

From when I set foot on the plane last December, I was dead set on not coming home until the year was up.. but then came a referendum and an opportunity which i could not pass up.

Jacket / Boots (Sold Out) / Top / Shorts

Between a very sound boss who said I could work from home and extremely generous 'Abroad for Yes' Facebook page, I found myself on a plane home. I kept it quite- mainly because I wanted to surprise my parents (a plan that ended up going swimmingly if you were wondering) but I had no idea what Dublin would really be like with the referendum looming.

I won't go into too much detail- if you were in the country the day of the referendum and the day afterwards, you know what I mean. It was just ecstatic and it is why I will never forget my little unplanned trip home.

Don't get me wrong my friends and family made the trip home amazing too. I was all over- Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford, Meath and Kildare and I was only home for 7 days!

The spontaneous trip ended up being hectic, troublesome, filled with joy and ultimately pride. Pride because I love Ireland, our culture and how we have progressed over the last few years. Anyway, I know this post was short and sweet but so was my trip home, see you in December Ireland!

Make sure to check out Pretty Little Thing's Holiday Shop here!

The Truth About Living Abroad

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Truth About Living Abroad

'My heart swings back and forth between the need for routine and the urge to run' 

It took three months for the hustle and bustle to simmer, for the inconsistant stream of 'what next' to finally fade. I am now in a routine and life is blissful.

I never thought about how life would go on on a daily basis when I moved somewhere completely new. I just thought about the excitement of moving into a new apartment which I hasn’t a clue what would be like, trying to find a job doing god knows what and the mad new nights out and experiences I would have. As I have officially settled into Chicago life, working a 9-5 job and becoming a weekend warrior, it is strange to think that I have gotten into such a normal routine doing such mundane tasks.


Playsuit / Round Necklace / Heart Necklace (out of stock) / Lipstick / Watch

I say mundane tasks, but nothing will beat meeting crazy people and hitting a late bar on a Friday or Saturday night followed by brunch on a Sunday with flowing mimosas and the ritual cinema date (thanks to movie pass- bless that invention). On a daily basis I find myself working 8 hours a day, the odd day of meal prep, going to the gym (god who have I become) and on top of that trying to film and edit videos, take instagrams and just be a sociable gal. Unfortunately i have let my love for my little blog be kicked to the curb as basically life just got in the way along with finally starting my true passion- video editing. Also- how FAB is this playsuit from Tobi??

Well didn’t I just get side tracked? When you move away- you tell everyone about the exciting moments that wouldn’t happen at all back on the emerald isle. Things like getting into an ‘Uber’, inviting her in and being robbed during the night because in fact she was not an Uber driver 🙄. But in reality, you have to make a living and most days we are the same, mundane tasks that you are at home. 

It’s easy to look at everyone’s lives abroad and think ‘wow, they’re living the life’ but the grass is always greener I’m telling you. I like to think that if I'm just working away, I may as well be doing that abroad while I can rather than at home (but thats just me).  Don’t get me wrong, I in fact do think I’m living the life I need to be right now and enjoying every minute of this crazy city.


A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self | Updated

Saturday, 3 February 2018

A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self | Updated
With my 22nd birthday swiftly approaching, I have been feeling nostalgic and had a root through my old blog posts. I then came upon a post that I wrote just before my 20th birthday- a letter to my 18 year old self. Reading that letter made me emotional- I had just gotten out of a two year relationship and still had a whole lot of growing up to do (even though I know I still do). That's why I decided to write an update, a new letter to my eighteen year old self.

Dear Eighteen Year Old Michelle,

Enjoy your last few months of school- you were a quite kiddo but I'm glad you made the most of your time in that mad place. You'll grow to learn that your secondary school gave you a surreal experience, that many kids growing up didn't didn't have. From the funny to the heartbreaking- you'll be thankful that you went to that school. Between the funny moments of girls locking their teachers out of their classrooms, to the scary- a girl falling down three floors onto a marble floor (but still being a ok). Your home ec teacher- Mrs. Edgely, will have thought you more than just that subject. She inspired, motivated, encouraged and impacted her student's lives more than I think she'll ever know. School thought you so much more than just maths and geography. The deaths of two girls in your year and the year below puts life into perspective and shapes your mindset into one of appreciation. You learn the true meaning of 'your health is your wealth' and you never know what is around the corner. St. Dominic's gave you an appreciation for the situation you are in, the opportunities you have in life and most importantly, to value everybody around you that you love.

You will find your voice in college. I'm not sure why you were painfully quiet in school but don't worry, you grow out of it. I think it was a mixture of being insecure, not knowing who you were or what you want to do but don't worry it'll pass pretty quickly. A little switch will flick and all of a sudden you will find your voice, believe in yourself and you'll be like a new person. You'll be so proud to know that you have gotten to the stage of confidence that moving thousands of miles away from home where you don't know anyone didn't even take a second thought.

College wasn't only great for that- you're going to have so much fun, learn so much from it and finally get to be yourself. I truely believe that it was some of the best years of your life. You discover that media is the place you want to be (despite so much negativity about it in your course) and that the journey starts when you graduate. You'll have some mad nights out, end up in strange and testing situations but end up in McDonalds at the end of the semester and it is all ok. That J1 you always wanted helped you grow up and although you went in not having a clue what to expect, it exceeded all expectations.

If I have any advice for you- know your worth. Diving into starting your career will be daunting but don't sell yourself short. Know your abilities and if you have a bad gut feeling- it is worth listening to. This doesn't just apply to your career however- people will hurt and mistreat you and you should have more self worth than to take any crap or to forgive when they didn't deserve to be forgiven. You need to surround yourself more with people who build you up rather than pull you down.

Time and timing is everything- you'll figure that out over the years. Between meeting a boy in San Diego when the last thing on your mind was a relationship to when the decision to finally move to the US came about. Everything happens for a reason and timing plays a huge part in that. Accept that we do not always have control on things and trust that everything will work out. Time gives you an amazing perspective about the mistakes that you have made and how things really were at the time- but that is all one learning experience for you. Just keep living your life for yourself and only yourself. The rest will fall into place. 

Stop giving out about Ireland and enjoy the country a bit more. After you have spent the summer living in California you get the opportunity to explore Ireland so much more. Thanks to a boy you'll get to experience life outside your Dublin bubble, get to see parts of the country that you never did, act the tourist and really appreciate the rolling hills, mad drinking culture and the history. Although it is small, the people are welcoming, the atmosphere is amazing and the healthcare system is quite good too (in comparison to the states haha). It is one of the best countries in the world however you just know while you are young it is just not the place you're meant to be in. You'll grow to love every inch of your Emerald Isle and know in your heart that this will always be where you call home.

Dun Laoghaire will fast become your favourite place. Between the sea, beautiful houses and Scrumdiddlys, it has i
t all. The place is one that both calms and inspires you. It will become a place initially where if you need space or a little cry, you can go, look out at the sea and just breathe and talk with your best friend Lizzy. Although holds that quality as the years go on, it begins to hold really special memories with friends that you will always remember no matter where we all are in the world.

Your nearest and dearest are absolutely amazing. The support of your parents is insane and they have so much love for you. They gave you an amazing childhood and allowed me to take every opportunity that arose. They can be overprotective but you're their one and only so don't get too bothered by it.

As for your friends, you keep a close few but they are all absolutely amazing people. You know that although you don't talk everyday, as soon as we needed each other, we'd drop everything and go. We all have our flaws, some of my friends can be absolutely insane, but I love each and every one.

I'm proud of you for sticking to your guns, having a good perspective on things and being there for your best friends when they needed you throughout the years. Keep doing that, keep the head up and you'll be fine.

Love from your older, and a whole lot wiser 22 year old self x

Writing this letter took so much thought, editing and tears and I'm so happy I could share it with you all. I truly recommend writing a letter to your younger self, it is such an emotional experience but so worth it in the end. When I reflect on my last 'letter to my 18 year old self', I almost find it funny about how much I thought I knew when I actually didn't. 

Thank you so much for reading and have a wonderful weekend x