Hallie’s Week Off (Italy Edition)

I’ve thought a lot about ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ since I got to Europe. The movie has always been one of my favorites and I’ve always related to Ferris, particularly during my senior year, and especially during the last few months of my senior year. But it wasn’t until my trip to Italy that I realized I’d be thinking about this movie for the rest of my life.

The Monday before last, I woke up thinking about new places. The travel bug bit me in Copenhagen and it felt like the right time to scratch the itch. My travel time is limited to weekends, but that’s not a terrible timeframe since I’m located in the heart of Western Europe. With this in mind, I spent Monday morning thinking of places I could go the following weekend. Somewhere close, of course, perhaps Paris for one night since it’s an easy train ride. I’m a beach girl, so I’ve wanted to go to the Italian coast for years (it looks so gorgeous in pictures), but I knew I wanted to combine that with a trip to a major Italian city since I had never been to Italy. Three days would not be enough, so this trip most likely wouldn’t be possible this year.

Or so I thought. Of course, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” (Any Paulo Coelho fans out there??) On this day, some paperwork needed to be fixed, so I was granted a week and a half off from work. Thus, I present you with: “Hallie’s week off.”

I left work around lunchtime with one thing on my mind: Italy. As I mentioned before, I wanted to see the coast while it was warm, but I didn’t think I’d make it in time. Well, I checked the weather for Cinque Terre, picked a city nearby to maximize the trip (Florence, obvi) and booked my tickets.

Best day ever turned best week ever.

I decided to go to Florence first because I wanted to spend the last day of my trip sitting on the beach with a pizza. (This is the type of nonsense you can actually consider when you plan a trip by yourself.) My plan for Florence was to have no plan. Of course I wanted to hit all the must-sees – the Florence Cathedral, Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, etc., but more than anything, I wanted to eat gelato (didn’t know I’d get 2-3 per day, but like I said, no plan) and get lost in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. On my first day in Florence, I put my phone in my bag, put a paper map in my pocket, and headed towards the center of the city. (I feel obligated to clarify – I threw my phone in my bag and used a paper map because my phone dies really quickly in Europe, not because I was trying to disconnect and become one with the world. It was, however, quite refreshing, and I highly recommend the paper map method.)

I fell in love with Florence within the first 10 minutes of my walk into the city, when I stumbled upon the modest Florence Cathedral. In all seriousness, I can’t put into words how beautiful it is. The cathedral, the dome, the bell tower and the baptistry – I had to stop walking so I could stare at the breathtaking pink and green architecture. I attempted to go into the cathedral immediately, but the guard kindly informed me that my skirt was too short. (Hallie things.) Don’t worry, I conquered every piece of the cathedral the next day, and it was well worth the 1-hour wait. My friend Gelato kept me company while I stood in line.

My first glimpse of the Florence Cathedral, Baptistry and Bell Tower.

The trip only went up from here – by more than a thousand steps. Florence is a knockout from every angle, so I climbed every flight of stairs I could in order to take it all in. My legs were actually sore the entire time I was in Italy, not that this means anything since my diet consisted of gelato, pasta, pizza and gelato. (In that order, 2x per day, 30 minute break in-between circuits!!)

Florence & me! View from Piazzale Michelangelo

So without going into too much detail about my travel itinerary, I’d like to say Florence was a fashion/art/history/food lover’s dream.


Thankfully, I got to wake from this dream and go straight into another – Cinque Terre.

The view from my terrace in Riomaggiore.

Oh, Cinque Terre. The most gorgeous coastal scenery I’ve ever seen. Just as I did with Florence, I made sure I saw these five breathtaking seaside villages from every angle. I didn’t want to miss anything on this coastline, so I hiked the entire Cinque Terre. Best eight hours of my life, no question about it.

Cinque Terre consists of five villages. (If you speak Italian, that’s common sense, and I’m sorry you wasted your time on that first sentence.) The villages are Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza, Manarola, and Monterosso. All equally beautiful, but I chose to stay in Riomaggiore because I found an apartment there with a sweet rooftop terrace. I’m a sucker for a rooftop, and the view was well worth the five flights of stairs I had to climb to get there. Since Riomaggiore is the first of the five villages, I started my hike there as well, after I devoured a fat slice of pesto focaccia. (Pesto is kind of Cinque Terre’s thing, if you didn’t know.)

So here’s where I had my Ferris Bueller epiphany.

I was hiking from Manarola to Corniglia and I had just hit the highest view between these two villages. It was incredible. The sky and ocean were both so blue I couldn’t tell where they met. On my left, I could see a rainbow of buildings in Manarola, and on my right, I could see a span of mountains and seaside cliffs that hid the remaining three villages. I suddenly realized where I was. I thought about my senior year of college, and all the work I put into looking for a job last summer. I thought about what I would have said one year ago if someone asked me what I would be doing after graduation. I never answered that question the same way twice, but I know I wouldn’t have said staring at the ocean from the top of a mountain on the Italian coast, alone. And this made me so happy. Naturally, I thought about the quote from the end of Ferris Bueller:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Somewhere between Manarola and Corniglia.

Here I was, across the ocean from my family, friends and any job I might have taken after college, and I was looking around. I was looking at my surroundings, and I was looking at myself – reflecting on the decisions I made that led me to this exact moment. Paradise.

And here’s where it gets weird. Remember the parade scene towards the end of the film when Ferris performs “Twist and Shout” from the top of a float? Well, when I reached Corniglia, I stopped to grab gelato (shock shock shocker!), and the gelato shop was playing “Twist and Shout.” SIGNS!

The rest of the hike was incredible, as was the rest of the trip. I have a note in my phone from my first day in Cinque Terre that I hardly remember writing, and it says, “I’ve realized I like hiking up more than I like hiking down.” Metaphor? Who knows. But what I do know is that this trip taught me a lot about myself, and even though I LOVE Amsterdam, I have to admit Italy is where I fell in love with my life abroad. What an amazing way to remember a country.

I wrote some of this blog on a train back to Florence from Riomaggiore, and I remember how tempted I was to stay on the train until it got to Rome. If my return flight wasn’t already booked, I would have done it. Fortunately, I got to spend more time than I expected in Florence waiting for my flight, and I decided to spend this time sitting on Ponte Santa Trinita while I finished “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway. What an amazing way to remember a book, too.

View from Ponte Santa Trinita.

The best thing about travel is that it stays with you when it’s over. I’ve been back in Amsterdam for about two weeks, and my outlook on life continues to change as I reflect on my experiences abroad and even from college. It pains me to say I only have six weeks left in Amsterdam, but I’ve been here long enough to know how much can happen in six weeks. After all, my trip to Italy was only six days, and Ferris only skipped one day of school.


Wonderful Copenhagen!

I’ve always loved Ariel, so I should have known her hometown would be cool and beautiful, just like her. I’m talking about her sea level hometown, of course… I’m not sure the exact location of her birthplace in the sea, and I’m very prone to swimmer’s ear, so I couldn’t go even if I had the address.

Last weekend, I ventured to Copenhagen, Denmark (or as I referred to it all weekend, København – call me if you want the correct pronunciation) to meet a couple of my best friends from Chapel Hill. My friend Rachael was taking a few weeks to travel before starting a job in Chicago, so I picked my favorite stop from her travel itinerary and booked a ticket to meet her. My friend Olivia is spending the semester in London, so Rachael and I convinced her to join us. I haven’t been with anyone from home in about a month, so as you can imagine, I was ecstatic.

In Nyhavn with Rachael and Olivia!

To be completely honest, I thought Copenhagen was going to be a lot like Amsterdam. And in some ways, it was. There was water and there were people. Oh, and the people rode bikes. But those were all of the similarities. Other than that, Copenhagen was a whole new world. (Frick. That’s Jasmine.)


I learned quite a bit on this little getaway, but one of my most important lessons came on day one at the Copenhagen Airport when I wanted to withdraw some cash. I didn’t know Denmark had its own currency – the Danish krone – and I definitely didn’t know the conversion rate. I was also too lazy to look up the conversion rate, so I took a wild guess at the ATM. I wanted $20, but my mom texted me later to ask why I withdrew $400. (Sorry mom.)

Of course, this didn’t turn out to be an issue – it’s easy to use cash when all you buy is ice cream and donuts from street vendors. Next to staring at the colorful buildings and boats in Nyhavn, eating was my favorite activity in Copenhagen. Which brings me to another lesson: don’t eat like Michael Phelps just because you’re in a foreign land with amazing food. Your poor friend will find you passed out on the bathroom floor at 3 a.m. from a fatal food coma. (Sorry Rach.)


On our last full day in Copenhagen, Rachael and I walked through The King’s Garden, a gorgeous park outside of Rosenborg Castle. We both got silent for thirty seconds (a long time for us) as we took in our surroundings – children running around even though it was the middle of a school day and adults dressed in work clothes but definitely not at work. I can’t remember who broke the silence, but one of us said it while one of us thought it – “Do you feel like everyone in Copenhagen just kind of… exists?”

It sounds stupid because Copenhagen is obviously a productive city, but hear me out. The shops operated on limited hours and the people walked as if they didn’t have a destination. We noticed many times we were the only people on a street – main streets! I’m talkin’ 5 p.m. and we were the only people at Amalienborg Palace. Not to mention there were barely any cars on the road no matter where we went (Copenhagen is dedicated to having a very small carbon footprint, hence all the bikes – take notes, America). There were TWO times on this trip when I felt like I was in a crowd – in Nyhavn and at The Little Mermaid, who our tour guide referred to as “remarkably underwhelming”. (I bet his ex-girlfriends have high self-esteem.)

As it turns out, none of our observations were incorrect – the Danish people really do live differently. I did some research and learned about janteloven, better known as the Law of Jante, a popular concept in Scandinavia. The actual Law of Jante is a list of 10 harsh rules a society should live by, but over time it has turned into a mindset. Most people in Copenhagen live in a way that can be summed up in one sentence: We are all the same and there’s no need to be competitive.

It sounds strange, especially because our society is extremely competitive. (Remember AR points? Yeah – it’s been ingrained in our heads since we were five years old.) However, there’s something to be said about it – in fact, there’s a lot to be said about it, considering the fact that Denmark is the happiest nation in the world.

This subtle cultural difference made a huge impact on me. I mean, we noticed it before we learned about it. That’s crazy, right? I also want to mention that everyone seemed really happy, which I know is hard to imagine because we often associate happiness with individual success. And I’m not saying there are no successful individuals in Copenhagen – that would be a very false claim. What I am saying is that I don’t think the Danish consider individual success an ultimate goal, but more of a bonus that sometimes comes from working to better the society as a whole.


Copenhagen was an incredible place to visit and I hope I can return soon. Catching up with my friends was the icing on the cake (I’ve always had trouble with this expression because it makes me hungry and right now I’m in an airport… dangerous), but the cake itself was discovering this fascinating state of mind. Maybe I’ll use it as an excuse next time I’m late to work in Amsterdam.


Life between weekends: Not a horror story.

Today was the best day I’ve had in a while.

If you had been with me, you’d probably think I’m being sarcastic. It was an uneventful day – I woke up, hit the gym (DON’T STOP READING… I promise this isn’t a #fitness #blog), put on a grey sweater, got coffee, went to work, and bought a salad (okay, it was the best salad I’ve ever eaten – I probably should leave this detail out since I’m trying to prove a point about how uneventful my day was, but wow. It would be a shame not to mention this gem from Sla). Anyways… it was an ordinary day. But days like today are great because of a feeling, and the way I felt on my way home from work was a way I haven’t felt since I was 18 years old.

I can’t think of a word that does this feeling justice, but it was a happiness that didn’t feel temporary. It had no extra weight and no solid cause, but an effect as solid as my love for Oreos. I’m craving sweets right now.


A little about my job:

When I first accepted my internship with The Pelican Studio and Hopes and Fears, I thought it was going to be a fashion PR internship, and this was good because I believed I needed more PR experience in order to get a position with an established PR agency. However, when I got to Amsterdam, I quickly realized it would be more of a retail internship, and this really upset me. It upset me so much that I wanted to quit after my first day, but I stuck with it because I was determined to create a role for myself in my 3 months with this brand. (Also, it’s my excuse to live in Amsterdam.)

Three weeks into my three months, I’m starting to see the potential this internship has to help me grow not only as a PR professional, but in other fields as well. I’m officially fluent in Dutch retail computer software and I handle all of the store’s orders, reorders, preorders and web orders. (The software is actually in Dutch… zeer intimiderend!)

Because my English is so fantastic, (I know… it’s my first and only language so not that cool to brag about), I asked if I could get some copywriting experience by writing the new copy for our website, promotional flyers, email blasts, social media content, and in-store brand features. I also get the opportunity to regularly participate in buying meetings with designers, which is something I’ve always thought I’d be good at doing, but didn’t think I’d ever pursue.


Last week, I also had the courage to tell the owners of the company I wanted to do less retail work and more PR work since that’s the kind of experience I wanted out of this internship in the first place. I presented a small PR plan with some basic tasks I want to complete in my time here, and I think the owners were impressed that I took this initiative – so impressed that they gave me permission to create a PR internship. (Pretty scary, but now I absolutely have to live up to my word, and the results are going to be awesome for both parties.)

Since I’m not working with other PR professionals, I’ve had to do a lot of research in order to decide what The Pelican Studio needs from a PR intern. I’ve started reading more PR cases and as a result, I’ve learned more about what kind of agency I want to work for when I return to the U.S. (HUGE win for me… there are a lot of different approaches to PR and it’s good to be educated about this!)


As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve had frequent moments of doubt about my decision to come to Amsterdam, and certain times are worse than others – the weekend before last being a “worse” time because most of my friends were in Atlanta for the UNC kickoff game against UGA and I was fighting to stay awake in the pitch black underground of an abandoned school house. (De School… Amsterdam’s hottest new club!!). However, I’m having fewer moments of doubt each day, and today I straight up didn’t have one.

Perhaps that’s what made today so amazing. At 6 p.m., (or 18:00 since this post is about how well I’m adapting), I left work feeling weightless and optimistic. I threw my dead iPhone into my purse and smiled all the way to the wrong tram stop.

One of the best things about living abroad. New friends!



Accidentally in Amsterdam

Alright, guys – I finally left Bob’s. I mean Chapel Hill. And because of who I am, I did it in the most dramatic way possible – I left the country!

My last view of the U.S., the NYC skyline.

I’ll admit my decision to come to Amsterdam was an impulsive one – I had some bad luck right after graduation when I lost a digital marketing internship in Atlanta I was really excited about (no one’s fault, just some technicality issues that rendered me unqualified), and I didn’t know where to go from there. It was hard enough to face the fact that my time as a UNC student was over (AKA, my life was over – or that’s how it felt), and the idea of immediately committing to a permanent location was one I couldn’t wrap my head around. Most of my best friends were staying in Chapel Hill for the summer and working in Raleigh, and even though this wasn’t my post-college dream, it was just enough to make me stay in the area much longer than I should have. Of course, my lease at the beloved Green Mile wasn’t infinite, and unless I wanted to move back home (which I didn’t), I had to make moves. Immediately.

I got the okay from my parents to move to Raleigh even though I didn’t have a job yet, but I told myself I could find a job if I really tried. For a few weeks, I looked at jobs online and spoke with some of my career mentors, but nothing seemed right. I realized if I interviewed for a job in Raleigh at this moment, it would be clear to the interviewer that I didn’t truly want to stay in Raleigh. In fact, I did interview at a PR firm I had interned with, and loved, but I found myself talking more about my dreams of travelling and living in a big city than I did about my strengths as a public relations specialist. This was a sign for everyone in the interview room. I wasn’t right for the job, and the job wasn’t right for me. Not right then.


Studying abroad was something I always knew I would do when I went to college. I would go to London, Paris, or Italy, and I would go the summer of my sophomore or junior year. I would eat lots of carbs, study as much art and fashion history as I could in my free time, and maybe even decide to move to Europe after graduation. (I would possibly meet Prince Harry and become royalty as well, but that was only if I went to London, obviously.) My parents raised me to value travel more than most things, so I thought of travel as a necessity – a foolproof investment. However, I looooved Chapel Hill. In fact, I looooved Chapel Hill so much I completely forgot to study abroad. Before I knew it, it was time to graduate from UNC, and I had not been to Europe since the summer after I graduated high school. I also hadn’t studied fashion in my spare time the way I promised myself I would, and suddenly it became clear to me that it was now or never. I would go anywhere in Europe, and I would work in the fashion industry while I was there. (Of course, I mean fashion PR – I’ll most likely pursue a career in public relations when I return to the U.S.)

Here’s one oversized sentence explaining why I chose Amsterdam: I wanted to go somewhere with lots of young people who speak English (I was SO good at Spanish 203, so I know it’s a shock to most of you that I’m not bilingual), I’ve always thought Amsterdam was gorgeous (I came when I was 9, so I remember it very clearly), and it is a hub for established and budding fashion designers, therefor making Amsterdam a little slice of fashion heaven (it’s worth mentioning that Vogue entered the Netherlands in 2012).

With all of this in mind, I emailed multiple fashion PR agencies in Amsterdam, found someone who would hire an American who couldn’t speak any Dutch, and booked a flight. I told my closest friends about my decision pretty immediately – they were all happy for me of course, but it was clear that the decision surprised them (and saddened some of them). I know I had discussed the possibility of going abroad with my friends before, but to be fair, I tell my friends a lot of things that are complete nonsense, and even I didn’t know if I was being serious about this.

My first day in Amsterdam with my mom, exploring the Museumkwartier in Amsterdam Zuid.


I’ve been in Amsterdam for almost 2 weeks now and I still have frequent moments of doubt about this decision. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to become friends with three awesome girls living in my apartment complex, but before that, I didn’t know a single person here. Keep in mind that when students study abroad, they normally come in groups and immediately have friends to explore with. I don’t have this, and that has made the transition a weird one. On top of that, the time change from home is just big enough (6 hours) to make it nearly impossible to keep up with my friends the way I thought I would. When I’m at work, they’re sleeping. When I’m off work, they’re at work. When I go to bed, they get off work and are ready to talk. I can’t imagine doing something like this 10 years ago – social media is incredible!!! (Blog post on this to come – it’s my favorite thing to talk about besides myself. JK… kind of.)

Luckily, I haven’t had a ton of time to feel lonely. I’ve been distracted by my full-time work schedule and the fact that I’m in Amsterdam. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some very beautiful places. I discover something new every day – a restaurant, a shop, a bridge, a neighborhood (the Jordaan is my favorite right now, but I plan to acquaint myself with the oh-so-hip De Pijp next).


I’ll talk more about my work experiences and my first weekend in the city (it got weird) in my next post, but the main takeaway from this is that I’m here and I’m determined to make the most out of this experience. I know it seems cliché, but I’m not just learning new things about Amsterdam everyday. I’m learning new things about myself, and that’s exactly why I came.

amsterdam pic

You can plan to go viral… or at least increase your chances.

Confession: I low-key thought I was going to become Vine famous the summer after my freshman year.

Every week, my friends and I would make hilarious (using the word “hilarious” generously) videos to post on Vine. The summer of 2013 was the first summer anyone had with Vine – people were becoming Vine famous left and right from videos that would go viral. There were vines about pancakes from this creepy guy (who has 4.6 million Vine followers):

Nicholas Megalis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K8qsW3bK4M

And vines about just about anything from this funny woman I had never heard of (she has 9 million Vine followers):

Brittany Furlan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHXp1fPSU1A

I figured, “Why not me?”

Maybe I was trying too hard. Or maybe my Vines lacked some of the essential features necessary for a viral video. I’ll never know for sure, but I did learn in this class that intentionally designing viral content is a thing. (Notice that I’m not embedding any of my Vines into this post – I’m a little glad they didn’t go viral.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.32.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.34.07 PM

In March, we discussed why certain content goes viral. Things like the value of a retweet over a favorite and the significance of list-style journalism stood out in my mind as viral content I see all the time but would never think to create.

As a college student who hasn’t yet entered the real world of journalism, it’s easy to gage my online popularity on the number of likes, favorites, and Snapchat story views I get. (Not at all saying this is okay – but it’s true for almost everyone my age that I know.) But if I write an article and I want to share it with as many people as possible, do favorites do me any good? Not necessarily. Asking friends with a large following on Twitter to retweet the article would get it seen by even more people.

Then, there’s the actual content. People love lists. In class, we discussed the number ten. Top 10 reasons to go to school in North Carolina. Ten grilled cheese recipes that will change the way you think about grilled cheese. Ten ways going to UNC will impact your life. In a quick Buzzfeed search with the number ten, 50 articles showed up from the past ten days. We discussed an article in class from OkDork that supplied a ten-ingredient recipe for a viral post. Had I even thought about this before? Not at all. But once I considered the value of lists, I realized how often I choose to read them.

We discussed the value of visuals. A post with an image or video is going to get twice as many shares as a post without any visuals. Why is that? People love to look at things. We choose videos and pictures over words all the time – this explains the growth of Snapchat as a news source. We like to communicate with each other using videos and images as well – Snapchat and Instagram are arguably my generation’s favorite media outlets for this reason.

We learned to promote our own content. If you want something you post to get attention, seek attention. Ask high-profile friends to share your post. Ask professors with influential Twitter pages to share your post. Share your own post a few weeks later. You never know who might see your work.

I noticed in this class that we didn’t have a lot of discussion about anonymous social media posts, and I think that speaks to some overall themes of the lecture, like the large influence we can all have on the media and what circulates networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. As journalism students, it’s important to post for the good of society and always to have integrity in what we put online (or in print). We explored our opinions on new technology and issues in mass communication that none of us had thought of before, and attached these opinions to our names and faces. This is the most significant thing I got out of this class, even if my posts never go viral.

Macs look better, too.

In my opinion, there are a million reasons to choose a Mac over a PC when shopping for a new computer or tablet. Macs allow for seamless use with the iPhone and iPads, Apple Care is fantastic, and Macs seem to be more immune to viruses than PC computers.

But what really sets Mac apart, whether we want to admit it or not, is the appearance of each product. No one can deny that Apple products are beautiful. 

After having this thought, I quickly realized I’m not the first person to acknowledge it. Pages of articles from Time Magazine, Telegraph and The Guardian about the beauty of Apple products flooded my screen when I typed “Apple product beauty” into a Google search.

Apparently, Apple realizes the visual appeal its products have on consumers. Have you seen the new gold MacBook? It’s breathtaking. Even the name “Apple” sounds better than names like “Dell” or “Lenovo,” not to mention the fact that a black boxy laptop comes to mind when I think of either of these brands.

According to Jeffrey Kluger in the Time Magazine article, the name and design of Apple products are bubbly and baby-like (rounded, inviting) because that’s what people are drawn to, and Steve Jobs did this intentionally from the beginning.

Courtesy: Google images

I have to admit that I don’t know of other advantages or disadvantages of PCs and Macs other than the ones I listed in the beginning. For all I know, a PC laptop would be just as fun and easy to use as a MacBook. But I’ll never know as long as MacBooks look better, especially if the technological differences are small.

What the Apple watch might do for your phone addiction.

Society as a whole is addicted to technology – primarily smart phones.

You can’t walk down the street without seeing almost everyone holding a phone to their face, not talking on it – but staring at the screen. I find myself checking my iPhone every minute for new notifications, and if I don’t have any, I search through social media to see what other people are doing.

When I first heard about the Apple watch, I thought, “great. Another piece of technology to become addicted to.” And this, I thought, would be even worse than a phone, because it’s something you can’t escape. You’re wearing it.

Courtesy: Google images

But earlier today, an article in The New York Times opened my eyes to a potential benefit of the Apple watch that I hadn’t considered. Tech writer Farhad Manjoo wrote about his week with the Apple watch, and tracked his feelings about the product on a daily basis.

What surprised me was his epiphany about the Apple watch keeping him from checking his phone constantly. He mentioned going to lunch with a colleague and being able to go hours without looking at his phone and being rude while spending time with another person. “With the Apple Watch on my wrist, my mind remains calm, my compulsion to check the phone suddenly at bay,” Manjoo said. Although he could glance at the watch to see his notifications, he didn’t have the opportunity to respond to them because the Apple watch doesn’t yet offer these features for every app. But Manjoo noticed the notification was enough. He wasn’t distracted by the watch at all, and his colleague didn’t notice Manjoo’s glances at his watch.

I was glad to see that Manjoo, a self-proclaimed phone addict, addressed this problem and gave the opposite stance that I was expecting. I assumed that having a phone-like object on your wrist would be even more addicting, but I understand how getting notification hits on your wrist could be just as satisfying as holding your phone and feeling the need to respond to all of your notifications.

Although I’m sure the Apple watch will eventually offer more features for responding to notifications, I think for now the watch might help phone addiction problems for busy people who feel like they can’t pull away – at least from the outside. Manjoo ended his diary with an insightful sentence that I have to include, addressing the fact that the Apple watch doesn’t offer many entertainment apps designed to distract the user.

“The watch, for now, is all business, aimed solely at improving your productivity. For some users, that alone might be worth several hundred dollars.”

Keeping up with the apps.

I dread it.

A few times a month, it’s that alert I get on my phone that says my apps need updating. Sometimes, the updates are simply bug-fixes. But lately, the updates consist of new features that I have to keep up with – and just when I get to know the update, there’s a new update again.

Constant app updates are obviously the result of fast-paced technological discoveries, and they aren’t going to stop any time soon. It’s the same thing with any technology – you buy the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5s comes out a few months later. But apps update at an incredible rate – I have a new update available every day.

Yesterday, I updated Snapchat. For those of you who don’t remember, Snapchat just made a dramatic change about a month ago, one I’m still recovering from. (Loss of access to my friends’ best friends…so sad.) Yesterday, Snapchat decided to add emojis next to certain friends’ names, and I had to Google what each of these emojis meant. Not only that, but the emojis led to a 2-hour conversation between me and my friends about who has which emoji beside who, and what that means. It was like we were finally getting a taste of the ‘best friends’ feature again, but not quite as transparent.

Courtesy: Google images

Instagram is releasing a new update in “a few days,” according to Mashable. This new update will include new editing tools (as if there weren’t enough already) and a feature where you can select certain users whose posts you want to follow closely. I’m assuming this means you’ll get a notification when these people post. But all I could think when reading about this new update is that it’s going to take me twice as long to edit my pictures, and before I know it, my phone will be blowing up to alert me that one of my friends posted a photo. I really don’t see the advantage of that feature.

Courtesy: Mashable

Other apps have made major changes in the past few weeks as well, and some are set to update soon. Think about Twitter’s fairly new features that show you an “Activity” feed and notifications about what your friends are “favoriting.” I personally don’t care for the extra notifications, but at least they didn’t make the app more difficult to use. Facebook is, of course, adding a digital pay feature to the Messenger app. I’m pretty excited for this one.

I’ve found that with the constant app updates, I have to pick my battles. I don’t necessarily utilize every feature offered. Snapchat messenger, for example, is not something I use to communicate with friends. The video chatting feature is too difficult as well – why wouldn’t I just FaceTime?

As far as the new emojis go, I’m probably going to ignore them. But I’ll be counting down the days until “best friends” come back.

Fashion meets function.

I’ve never been the type to wear “functional” accessories. I tried a watch for a while, but decided it was too bulky. When Livestrong bracelets were popular, I was the only person at my high school who refused to wear one because it didn’t match my outfit.

So now I’m conflicted. Technology is becoming too prominent not to wear – think Apple watch, and my favorite fashion designer is designing Fitbits. What am I supposed to do?

Elle Australia featured the Apple watch in a multi-page spread in their last issue. Of course, they displayed the special edition watches that cost well over $1,000, but it’s a tech watch regardless. The editors made it a point to pair the watch with statement jewels and this fashion season’s it pieces.

Looking at the pictures, I wasn’t bothered by the presence of the watch like I thought I would be. If technology is becoming such a huge part of our lives, why wouldn’t it be something we wear? Now thinking about it, I hold my phone so much that it becomes part of every outfit I wear. I might as well have it strapped to my wrist.

Courtesy: Elle Magazine

So now for the Fitbit. I’ve always thought these were kind of silly. I don’t need to know how many calories I burn each day – if I eat healthy and workout, I’m fine. Not to mention the fact that it’s a giant piece of rubber wrapped around your wrist that looks like a glorified rubber band. Or, it was. Now, Tory Burch designs Fitbits. And they are leather. And silver. And gold. And rose gold.

Courtesy: Tory Burch

Obviously I’m more likely to wear one of these items now that techies are designing pieces with fashionistas in mind. It’s actually kind of cool that fashion and tech are finally emerging, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for items like Apple watch and Fitbit. (Especially Apple watch.)

I’ve decided to stop fighting the inevitable, and let tech-functionality find its way into my wardrobe. I’ll be ordering a Fitbit this week.

Anxiety? There’s an app for that.

This morning, my friend Lauren and I were driving through terrible traffic. I told her traffic gave me anxiety, and it turned into a joke for the rest of the day about how everything gives me anxiety. We looked up ways to soothe anxiety – thinking teas, super foods, certain herbs – that kind of thing. But instead, we stumbled upon a Buzzfeed article that revealed 14 apps for people with anxiety.

While we looked at the article, I couldn’t help but think this was crazy. In my opinion, phones give people anxiety. My phone certainly plays into my stress level. The idea of staring at my little screen to calm my anxiety sounds bizarre.

So I downloaded the first app on the list – Pacifica. The app is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), apparently a well-researched technique.

The first thing the app had me do was choose what kind of anxiety I wanted to fix. I said “calm daily anxiety” because I don’t have an actual anxiety problem. The other option was to have fewer anxiety attacks – something I’d be shocked could be fixed with a phone.

The app then told me to enter my mood daily, and gave me relaxing techniques to calm anxiety. This made sense to me – the app itself doesn’t help anxiety – the app gives you activities that involve leaving the phone.

I think I’m actually going to try using the app for a few weeks. Anyone could benefit from it – if anything, the app gives you a reminder to breathe.