MONTHLY LOVE | NOVEMBER

26 November 2015


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Whether you are celebrating in America, abroad, or know nothing about the holiday whatsoever, I hope you have an amazing day! Lots of things have been happening this month, but my favorite by far was hearing the news Jon has booked his flight to America! That's right, the Brit will be invading the streets of Texas for a couple of weeks in January and I am beyond excited to show him around my home. From Houston to San Antonio and New Orleans, we have a lot planned! But for now, lets talk about how amazing November has been!


THINGS I'M LOVING 


SAMSUNG GALAXY NOOK | Although I enjoy nothing more than flipping through the pages of a new book, I was tossing around the idea of buying a Kindle or Nook. Since I am always traveling and am on the go 24/7, a tablet just made a little more sense. HOWEVER, I never got the chance to purchase my own. Instead, at my company's quarterly meeting, I was awarded Employee of the Quarter. My prize? A Samsung Galaxy Nook!

HAPPY HOURS IN THE CITY | Growing up in the suburbs of Houston meant I've never really enjoyed the city of Houston as an adult. Now that I have moved back I am enjoying exploring Houston's cultured life. From happy hours at Mexican food restaurants to happy hours in museums, I am exploring what Houston has to offer one drink at a time.

CHRISTMAS MUSIC | I don't' care what anyone says, the Michael Buble Christmas album is out and is playing on repeat in my household! 

PINE SCENTED CANDLES | I'm a candle hoarder. The first step is admitting your addiction, right? Well since the seasons are changing from fall to winter, I obviously had to buy a few more winter scented candles. Anything pine scented is my absolutely favorite at the moment!

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING | This is the first Christmas I have had a 'big girl' job. I've always worked, as long as I can remember, but this year I actually have an income that allows me to give real presents. All my shopping is done, but I am beyond excited for my family to open up their presents on Christmas Day! 


LOVELY LINKS

+ With all of the horrible things going on to the world, I have found a father's words to his son to be one of the most moving videos to come out of Paris. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr "Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that".
+ Looking for a good Christmas playlist? Zoe Sugg's Spotify playlist is PERFECTION. 
+ I've really been enjoying Helene's free webinars. If you are interested in growing your blog, I highly recommend taking her latest course, Build a Successful Blog!

Getting a Degree Abroad | The First Steps

23 November 2015


You may have seen slightly less of me these last few weeks. I always find this time of year extremely hard. There is so much to do for the holidays that I barely have any time for myself. The bright side? I am very excited to share with y'all a new series: Getting a Degree Abroad!

Over the last couple of years I have received numerous emails from readers with questions about studying and living abroad. Getting my Masters degree abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I want to share with you a little insight on how I went about the entire process.

A little background on me: I studied abroad at Kingston University in London for a summer during my undergraduate degree. Knowing I wanted to go back, I made the decision to get my masters in England, verses getting my masters at home. I received my Masters of Arts Degree in History at the University of Bristol in early 2015. 

I do want to point out these posts will be geared towards people who want to spend a significant time abroad. While I highly suggest studying abroad for a semester, the advice given here is more for people looking to obtain a degree (rather than taking a course or two) from a university abroad. So let's get right to it, shall we?


THE BEGINNING RESEARCH

IS UNIVERSITY ABROAD RIGHT FOR YOU?
Studying abroad is something I strongly believe everyone should do while in college. There is so much to explore outside of your home country, and the best way to open that door is by diving head first into a study abroad program. However, getting a degree abroad is something else entirely. If you are independent, love immersing yourself in other cultures, and don't mind giving up your favorite home foods, you might want to look into getting your degree abroad. Here is a quick list to help you determine if you should study abroad or get a degree abroad:

You are looking to party = Study Abroad
You are willing to dedicate the majority of your time studying = Degree Abroad
You only want to live in a foreign country for 1 month to 6 months = Study Abroad
You are looking to move to a country for more than a year = Degree Abroad
"I have to actually take classes?" = Study Abroad
"I can't go out tonight, I to read 8 articles before tomorrow"  = Degree Abroad
You want to experience life abroad with your friends = Study Abroad
You are VERY independent = Degree Abroad
You want to see all the sights = Study Abroad and Degree Abroad
You want to learn more about the world = Study Abroad and Degree Abroad
You are eager to learn a new style of teaching = Study Abroad and Degree Abroad
You love to travel = Study Abroad and Degree Abroad

If you are iterated in studying abroad, visit the international affairs office at your home university. They have the information for numerous programs you can apply to and will provide the best advice in the whole process.

Getting a degree abroad means you will be applying directly through that particular university. The next step? Figuring out where you actually want to study!

WHAT COUNTRY SHOULD YOU STUDY IN?
Picking a country can be either the easiest or hardest part, depending on what type of person you are. For me, I always knew I wanted to study in the UK. The universities are world ranked, the culture is amazing, and it is a country where I didn't have to learn a foreign language. It was easy as pie. For others, there are so many options it's hard to make up your mind! When picking a country, whether you have your mind made up or not, here are some things to consider: visa restrictions, cost, time, and language. 

Visa Restrictions | Every country has their own rules and requirements upon entering. For example, as an American citizen I was required to apply and pay for a visa if I was going study in the UK. This visa allowed me to live in the UK during my study time, but restricted me from working more than 20 hours a week. Research every countries visa restrictions. You may save yourself time and money by doing so.

Cost | Lets face it, cost is going to be a major factor in picking a country. Some countries may be expensive, some slightly less. Decide on how much money you are will to spend of cost of living, as well as how you will continue to pay for that lifestyle during your course (remember, most student visas WILL restrict how much you can work, so you may have to think of other means as well).

Time | University course are different in every country. Your home country may require you to take a year of basics before you can even begin your degree classes, while some countries offer shorter degree programs. Think about the time you are willing to spend on getting your degree, and remember! Time = Money.

Language | If you are willing to learn a foreign language, great! If you already know one, super! But not everyone will know how to speak fluently in their new country. That's okay. A lot of countries will allow you to get by with English (I assume if you are reading this you know English pretty well). However, some countries that may be a massive barrier. Expat bloggers are a great resource for finding out how well you should know a language before packing up and moving there.


PICKING A UNIVERSITY

THE PROGRAM
Picking what kind of degree you want is a hard process to begin with, however once your degree has been chosen you want to make sure you are choosing a quality department. University departments range in quality, and it can be extremely difficult to figure out whether you are going to have the help you need or be left to fend for yourself. The easiest way to figure this out is by contacting current or former students through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Nowadays, it's pretty easy to locate a group of people through the internet, and most people will be willing to provide you with feedback from their experiences.

REPUTATION
There are only so many resources out there to help you determine whether the school you are researching is actually worth it. Reach out to bloggers! To this day I continue to receive emails with questions about my time at the University of Bristol. It's how I actually met one of my very best friends!

Not only do you want to know if this school is worth it, reputation will help you determine how you can "sell" that university to employers back home. Many people in your home country may not know your foreign university's name, however, with one quick Google search they can access the best (and worst) parts of the foreign school you have decided to attend.

LOCATION
So you've already picked a country to study in. That's awesome! Now it's time to actually pick where in that country you want to live. While you may have your mind set on a particular university, I highly suggest researching the city it is located in as well. Your location will make or break you life abroad. Not only will you be paying rent in this place, you will have to figure out transportation, pay for groceries, and determine the type of social life you can afford/have access to.

HELPFUL TOOLS 
Studying Abroad vs. Grad School Abroad, What the Elle
The Pros and Cons of Earning a Graduate Degree Abroad
Student Visas (UK only)
Student Visa Process Step by Step

If you have any questions about the first steps of getting a degree abroad, please feel free to leave a comment below. This series will cover lots of things including how to get visas, what to pack, and so much more! If you want me to address any particular questions in future posts, please let me know!

xoxo

Houston Margarita Festival | Sam Houston Park

18 November 2015

Houston Margarita Festival

If Texas had a state drink, it would be a margarita. A margarita is a simple drink really. 2 parts tequila, 1 part lime juice, and 1 part triple sec. Frozen or on the rocks is completely up to you. Originating in Mexico in the late 1930s or early 1940s, the drink became extremely popular in the southern United States. Houston adopted the drink quickly, creating a wide variety of flavors hardly similar to its original form.

 I first heard about Margarita Fest a few days before it was set to take place. I quickly bought my ticket, ecstatic my friend had found out about it when she did. In typical Houston fashion however, it rained. No, it poured. Margarita Fest was moved from its original Saturday date to Sunday. I'm not going to lie, people were mad. I would be too if I bought a ticket for something and then wasn't offered a refund after the date change. People we were set to go with couldn't come, but a select group of friends and I headed out to the muddy grounds anyway, refusing to waste our $40 tickets.

Despite the mud, it turned out to be a wonderful day. We arrived early and immediately tried one of the premium margaritas. Throughout the day we proceeded to try cucumber margaritas, orange and cinnamon margaritas, apple margaritas, and even jalapeño margaritas. Some were better than others (I'm looking at you jalapeño marg), but with over 19 flavor choices it is hard to not try them all. 

Houston Margarita Festival Houston Margarita Festival Houston Margarita Festival

This year, Margarita Fest took place in Sam Houston Park. Named after Texas' most famous president (yes, Texas was its own republic after it won independence from Mexico), Sam Houston Park is located amongst the skyscrapers downtown. The park is home to some of Houston's oldest structures, including a cabin built in 1823 and a church built in 1891. It is rare to find 19th century buildings still standing in Houston. The park has become the perfect place to preserve some of these treasures. 

Houston Margarita Festival Houston Margarita Festival Houston Margarita Festival Sam Houston ParkSam Houston Park
A photo posted by S a r a D a v i s (@sararosedavis) on

Bristol, England | The Ultimate Travel Guide

12 November 2015

Bristol will always hold a special place in my heart.
It is where I studied, worked, and fell in love. Although I have moved back to Texas, I will always consider Bristol to be one of my homes.

Less than two hours away from London by train, and just 15 minutes past Bath, Bristol is a fantastic destination. The city is just big enough to allow the freedom of exploring without getting completely overwhelmed. If you have the chance to visit, I highly suggest you do!


QUICK FACTS
Time Zone | Greenwich Mean Time Zone

Average Summer Temperature | 16 - 20 degrees Celsius // 60 - 68 degrees Fahrenheit
Average Winter Temperature | 3 - 7 degrees Celsius // 37 - 44 degrees Fahrenheit 

Transportation | First Great Western Bus, 3 pounds for a day pass

Main Train Stations | Bristol Temple Meads, approx 1 mile away from City Centre
Bristol Parkway, approx 8 miles away from City Centre

Average Hotel Price Per Night | $100 (£67)

Average Meal Price |  £12 - 18
Average Drink Price | £3 - 6


HISTORY
+ The earliest settlements in Bristol date back to the Middle Paleolithic period.
+ The city of Bristol itself was given Royal Charter in 1155.
+ Bristol was strategically founded a few miles inland to protect the city from attack by water. The only way to access Bristol's port was up the Avon River, which posses the second highest tidal ranges in the world.
+ In medieval England, Bristol was the second largest port in the country, trading with Ireland and Iceland frequently.
+ In 1497 John Cabot sailed from Bristol on the Matthew, and discovered Newfoundland. (side note: I actually lived on the same street John Cabot lived, St. Nicholas Street)
+ Bristol, along with Liverpool, were the major English ports associated with the Triangular Trade.
+ During the 19th century Bristol saw the effects of the industrial revolution. The creations by Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel can be seen across the city today, ranging from the Clifton Suspension Bridge to the ss Great Briatin.
+ Bristol was the fifth most bombed city in the UK during World War II.
+ Today you may recognize Bristol from shows such as Skins, and Wolf Hall.



LANDMARKS AND SIGHTS
Clifton Suspension Bridge
Website | Location
Admission - Free
Designed by I.K. Brunel, Clifton Suspension Bridge is Bristol's most iconic landmark.


Cabot Tower
Location | My Post
Admission - Free
Built in celebration of the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's discovery of Newfoundland, this late 19th century tower provides a 360 degree view of Bristol.


Arnos Vale Cemetery 
Website | Location
Admission - Free
Established in 1837, Arnos Vale is hoem to over 300,000 souls. The overgrown and rugged cemetery is perfect for a quiet and peaceful walk.


St. Mary Redcliffe
Website | Location
Admission - Free
One of England's most beautiful Gothic buildings.




MUSEUMS 
The ss Great Britain
Website | Location
Admission - 13.75 (ticket valid for one year)

Designed by I. K. Brunel, the ss Great Britain is one of the world's most important ships. Launched in 1843, she spent almost 100 years as a passenger and cargo ship, before being left for ruin in the Falkland Islands. In 1970 she was brought back to Bristol and now sits in the exact spot where she was built.

M Shed
Website | Location
Admission - Free
Interested in getting to know Bristol a little better? The M Shed is a museum that showcase's Bristol's unique history. From Roman settlements to medieval voyages to WWII, this museum covers it all.


Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Website | Location
Admission - Free
From dinosaurs to modern art, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery has it all! This museum if perfect for an afternoon with no plans. There's so much to see, you might just have to take two trips to see it all!



Red Lodge Museum
Website | Location
Admission - Free
The Red Lodge Museum is the perfect example of a Tudor house. One of Bristol's oldest homes, the Red Lodge Museum hosted Queen Elizabeth I during her visit to Bristol 400 years ago.




WHERE TO EAT
Breakfast | Boston Tea Party
Lunch | The Burger Joint
Afternoon Tea | The Tea Birds
Dinner | El Puerto

THE MOST INSTAGRAM WORTHY SPOTS
Stokes Croft 
Harbourside
Brandon Hill
Bristol Cathedral 

A photo posted by S a r a D a v i s (@sararosedavis) on



Population 3 | Luckenbach, Texas

09 November 2015


There are some places that encompass that 'idea' of Texas. 

What do I mean by that? Texas is not only a place, it's an idea and/or a way of life. If you don't live in this great state, you probably conjure up images in your head of tumbleweeds, the wild west, and country music. While you can find places that resemble this throughout the state, the majority of the population lives in metros or suburbs. No tumbleweeds to be found here. However, while visiting the Texas Hill Country, I managed to take a little time away from my wine sipping to visit a very 'Texan' landmark.

The city of Luckenbach has an interesting history. For example, the population of this town deep in the heart of Texas is 3. Yes, you read that correctly. THREE. Like Fredericksburg, Luckenbach was founded by German immigrants in the 19th century. It's population reached a whooping 492 in the early 20th century before significantly dropping off to 3. If that doesn't spark your fascination already then maybe Luckenbach Dance Hall will.

While Luckenbach is practically a ghost town, the community upholds the Dance Hall. A popular place for country music, Luckenbach dance hall is THE place to be on a Saturday night. Immortalized by the song Luckenbach, Texas Back to the Basics of Love, country music stars such as Willy Nelson, Pat Green, and Lyle Lovett have graced the dance halls. On Sundays, you can find locals and travelers alike pulling out their guitars and singing a few songs. 


Whether you're there for the music or just a few pictures, Luckenbach is the perfect place to experience something truly "Texan.

xoxo