Things I Learned in 30 Days Studying Abroad - Hamburg, Germany

Monday, 6 November 2017

The Public Transport Really Is Amazing
I have already grown accustomed to only having to wait a maximum of 4 minutes most days, (usually 2) for the underground (called the U-Bahn here) And I am not as hopeless with directions as I previously thought. With the HVV app, it's pretty easy to figure out where you need to go, and central Hamburg is really quite small!

Hamburg Rathaus (City Hall)
Try & Learn The Language Before Arriving
If you're coming to Germany, you can get by with no German, if you speak English, but you're life will be a lot easier if you take the time to learn the basics of German before arriving. I have realised the huge part signs and texts play in my everyday life because here I can't understand so many of them!

The Supermarkets
They are really different here, there is a very distinct German-ness to stores like Aldi and Lidl here. While we have these stores back home and I thought they would be familiar, the stores back in Ireland have been carefully tailored to the Irish market, the first few weeks I found it very hard to get anything I was looking for. It wasn't helped by not being able to read German though! But here there is chocolate, gingerbread style cookies, Nutella, and marzipan, absolutely everywhere!

The Sunday Apocalypse
Everything is completely shut on Sundays. You get used to it but in the first few weeks it was a shock, I had to make sure to go shopping on Saturday for anything I was going to need on Sunday. There are some restaurants open Sundays. but pretty much everything else is completely closed. Also, stores tend to close earlier here than what I am used to. Even fast food joints don't stay open very late on week days so you need to remember to be prepared for that!

Don't Come Here Looking To Shop
Well, at least not on a student budget! Coffee, pastries and ice-cream may be more a little more affordable in most places, but everything else most certainly is not!
You may be shocked upon visiting even a thrift store to find that they really very aren't cheap at all! In general the prices here for clothing and shoes for example are extremely expensive.
You could get lucky with a bargain at a flea market here if you can haggle, but otherwise you'll be lucky to get new clothing or shoes for less than an absolute minimum of €30 here. (Unless you go to Primark maybe, they do have it here.)

Trees & Lakes
Hamburg is a very green city, there are lot's of parks and trees and waterways. You can get a bike and cycle around the Alster, Hamburg is definitely very easy on the eyes.

Traffic Regulations
Do not j-walk. I repeat, do not j-walk.  Traffic rules are taken very seriously here. Also, you must work to avoid being flattened by a bike, I've had some close shaves. Bikes have right of way over pedestrians on the footpath. Usually there is a separate path for the bikes, normally a pink or grey colour, but they don't have to stay on it so watch out!

People Look Up, Not Down #nosmartphonesjustsmartpeople
Here in Germany the amount of mobile data people get on the average phone plan is quite small from what I hear, and maybe this plays into something I noticed right away here, and that is that you don't really see people the same volume of people on their phones. You will get filthy looks while trying to text and walk. Especially while crossing a road, even if it's the green man! And the reason you get stared at so much on the underground is people aren't staring at their phone, so they stare at you instead haha!

The World Is Really Big
Meeting people from all over the globe who have come to study in Hamburg has been a really enriching experience and made me realise the nuances and layers of culture and language in places I would have previously thought of as just one country or area! If you can study abroad, do it!!

The World Is Really Small
We are all so well connected now it's a little scary! Social media means we can connect with strangers and people we've only just met so instantly. It's not like I haven't always known that but it's been reinforced by meeting so many new people in a such a short space of time.
Also, friends and family back home can keep really close tabs on you and there is a good chance you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who knows you! Even worldwide there are only a varying number of degrees of separation between all of us!

Time Flies!
I've already been here for two months as I publish this! It's gone by so fast and I want to make the most of it! And I definitely want to travel so much more now, sadly my budget isn't doesn't stretch to all the trips I wanted to make since I arrived here, but look out for some other posts I have planned on places to eat and things to do here in Hamburg!


You can also follow me on Instagram @sadiyahearts to see what I'm up to!

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Hello October | Autumn Scented Candles

Thursday, 5 October 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written any blog content, I’m currently on Erasmus in Hamburg. I’ve been here for over a month now and I can’t believe it’s been that long already. I’ve just been exploring and getting used to the new culture and city here, as well as taking classes in a new place. Also, battling flu, which is kinda inevitable for some unfortunate people each autumn/winter.

Anyway, as all blog posts seem to become an ode to autumn/fall at this time of year, (going off my twitter feed here) this is one trend I can get on board with. Sept-Dec is definitely my favourite time of the year. I hope I can keep some fresh posts coming, to get back to posting I think I’d like to get a nice autumn theme going.

Here are some different autumnal scents candles.

1. Vibrant Saffron Medium Jar, Yankee Candle
2. Escape To Wonderland Scented Candle, Max Benjamin
3. Warm Cashmere Medium Jar, Yankee Candle
4. White Wood & Amaryllis, Celtic Candles
5. Fireside, Field Day
6. Earth Collection #wood, Candella

Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube |

Blogging Seriously

Saturday, 24 June 2017
I've been considering for a while making the step from blogging here on blogger, to moving over to a self hosted WordPress blog. It's a really confusing thing to navigate when you've never done it before or if you're not particularly tech savvy, but you can do it.

You probably won't even know what I'm talking about here unless you have actually attempted to start your own website, or already have your own website, but choosing a hosting service is the first most difficult thing to navigate, there are so may out there and as a beginner you don't always really know what the right choice is for your needs. It can also be pricy too, if you're not blogging for business, you need to consider whether or not you want to invest in your blog and if you are, by how much.

As I was trying to navigate through this area myself, reached out and asked me to share their article for bloggers deciding on a web host, so I've decided to share it as it's actually relevant to me at the moment and to many other bloggers who are also trying to decide on a web host for them. You can also check out these hosting reviews too.

People don't realise that blogging seriously is actually a very demanding job and is forever a learning curve for a beginner because you do need very specific knowledge!

Are you thinking of moving from blogger yourself?
Do you have a self-hosted WordPress blog?
Which host do you use?
Share you thoughts and advice below!

How I Edit Instagram Photos

Monday, 29 May 2017

I'm always curious about how other people edit their photos so today I'm sharing how I edit my Instagram photos. There's no right or wrong way to do it, but these are the steps I follow and the apps I use.

1.      I import the image into VSCO and apply my usual filter.

You can copy & past edits in VSCO, I paste the filter I always use.

2. Next I share the image to the Snapseed app and make further changes, mainly using the brush tool. I generally brighten and darken certain areas using the dodge and burn brush. I also use the saturation brush to bring out the colours of certain areas that I want to pop a little bit and that have been drained out by my filter. I like to experiment with different changes to see what works.

Editing Interface in Snapseed

3. Depending on whether I think I need to, I might increase brightness and contrast or sharpen the image.

Snapseed Tools
4. Once I’m happy with my edits, I open the UNUM app and import the image to check how it appears visually with the other photos on my account. UNUM lets you see what your photos look like next the images you have already uploaded. This means you can better visually plan your feed. Once I’ve done this, the image is ready to upload.

5. I don’t do this much, but sometimes I will tune up an image further using Instagram, mostly just changing brightness and contrast levels before posting.

Other IG Tips

🔼When you’re shooting images for Instagram, frame them up into a square. What I did was actually change the image size on my camera to a 1:1 ratio which is the right size for Instagram. It makes it easier to frame up images without having to crop anything out later. It means I can capture collections of images with Instagram in mind and then drip feed them to my account after I’ve edited them without worrying that they won’t fit well and having to crop them.

🔼Using the same filter keeps my feed looking consistent. To get ideas for VSCO themes check out Pinterest (just search "VSCO themes") or VSCO’s feed.

🔼To be at the top of your IG game and make sure you’re posting regularly, try using Later to schedule your posts.

What are some of your Instagram photo editing tips?

Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube |

The Unicorn Makeup Brushes

Saturday, 27 May 2017
Unicorn brushes,

I had to share these makeup brushes, which I finally got my hands on. They arrived about three months after I ordered them so note that if you're thinking of purchasing! I normally go for really minimal understated styles so to find these so appealing was different, I just think they're really fun and sparkly.  They're also beautifully soft and are great for blending out shadows other powder products. I think they brighten up your makeup routine.

Do you like novelty brushes?
Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube |

How to Instagram Like a Pro

Friday, 26 May 2017

Instagram is a very important platform if you’re in a creative area, whether, it’s beauty and makeup, fitness, fashion, food or design, it’s a tool that can be cleverly utilised to represent you and your brand, blog or just personal interests. While I have been a bit absent from my blog, I have been more active on my Instagram so I thought I’d share what I have learned with you, through both using Instagram and reading a lot of ‘How To Instagram’ type content. If you’re reading this you probably already have an account and just want to overhaul or upgrade your theme. I’m going to list the steps to Instagram like a pro.

1.      Pick your niche.

If you’re a blogger, you most likely already have this. But maybe you’re feed is a little bit inconsistent or all over the place in terms of the content your sharing. To fix this you need to pinpoint exactly what kind of content you are going to be mainly sharing. Whatever it is you’re uploading, there should be something common between all of them that the audience you’re trying to reach will appreciate and enjoy. When you’re giving your followers something good you’re providing value, which is the only reason we follow blogs, accounts or channels, because they’re giving us something, whether it’s inspiration, motivation or a laugh, you need to be giving your audience something.

2.      Pick a theme.

Once you’ve decided on what your content is you’re ready to pick a filter theme. You can maybe think of your account as a fashion magazine editorial. What I mean by that is that a fashion editorial has an overall theme, the styling, lighting and props throughout an editorial tend to have something that ties them all together, this is what you need to be focused on when you’re sharing images to your feed. You could pick a bright & white theme, incorporate pastel colours, or certain colours, maybe a combination of 2 or 3 specific colours, use certain textures, just something you are going to incorporate into your images consistently. Even if the content of your images varies greatly using a consistent filter will really help tie them together. I would recommend using VSCO, it’s the app I use and it allows you to create a custom theme which you can simply copy and paste onto any other image you import into the app. This means you know you’re creating a uniform collection of images using the same custom filter consistently. If you’re unsure about what kind of aesthetic, theme or filter you want to use, check out ‘VSCO themes’ on Pinterest, there are a ton of different examples of filters to inspire you.

3.      Take good photos!

This should be the most obvious thing but I’ll include it anyway, know how to frame things in a square! Pay attention to your framing, lighting, angles and props. Spend time reading photography tips and improving your photography skills. Practice makes perfect!

4.      Be realistic about the kind of images you’re going to be able to upload.

When I first tried to develop my Instagram theme, the minimal monochrome look really appealed to me, I love anything clean and minimal. However, I quickly realised, that this particular theme is very high maintenance and didn’t really suit my lifestyle as a student who is always on the go. I’m not the owner of a fab bright and white minimal apartment so finding ‘white’ things to capture was quite challenging. The point I’m making is just know what is going to be easy for you to work around and pick a theme and filter that is going to be easy enough for you to maintain.

    5.      Edit, edit, edit.

Know how to edit your photos to create a solid theme. This goes back to the kind of filter you choose to use, but photo editing is a bit more than just applying a filter. Learn a bit about image editing, a good edit can really elevate an image from something average to something wow. Use the right apps. As I said, I use VSCO for my theme and Snapseed to do little tweaks to my images to bring out colours or details and to brighten or darken areas to make for a better image. If you really want to be at the top of your Instagram game, you can check how an image you want to upload will work visually with the other images you have already uploaded by using UNUM. It allows you to better plan your feed visually.

6.      Smart caption.

A clever caption can upgrade an image and add meaning. I tend to keep captions very short or just use emojis, and let the photo mostly speak for itself, but my account is kind of arty/photography based. Know your audience and connect with them through your captions, you can ask questions or create a call to action if you are using Instagram for business. If you take time to plan your content you can plan your captions in advance too, it’s easier to come up with something when you’ve thought about it rather than when you take a photo and are going to immediately upload it.

7.      Know your hashtags.

Hashtags are the only way for your images to get seen by new people who might be interested in your account and the images you upload. Use hashtags wisely to target the people you want to follow you. Check out this list to find some hashtags relevant to promoting your blog if you’re a blogger, but whatever your niche there are sets of hashtags that are relevant. You can always remove your hashtags after a while so don’t worry about using too many and looking ‘desperate’ if your content is good, appropriate hashtags will increase engagement with it. Here are some resources for researching the right hashtags for your account.

8.      Upload regularly.

There are tools like Later you can use to schedule posts and to remind you to post at certain times, but you should maybe try and roughly figure out when is the best time for you to post to get engagement from your followers. You should also engage with other users that are similar to you. If you comment genuine positive comments on other people’s images you will definitely see a rise in engagement on your Instagram.

9.      Don’t take it too seriously.

I only have a paltry amount of followers on Instagram, but I like my photography and theme. If you’re blogging as a hobby like me, you shouldn’t get too caught up in the numbers game, there’s a lot of deception on Instagram regarding numbers and the changes in algorithms have made it a lot harder to ‘succeed’ on the platform. Things like buying followers has become a lot more common in the blogging community. (By the way, buying followers is ultimately a pointless exercise. What you grow on Instagram is influence, if your followers are fake, you have no real influence.) Just enjoy creating content and be proud of it. Use it as a way to display your creative interests and talents and don’t worry so much about your follower count, if you want to see consistent growth on Instagram it’s pretty much a full-time job and not one I have the time to spend on. When I began commenting and the posting regularly, I did see a climb in followers though. The problem is if you don’t keep it up you will lose them again and there is more to life than Instagram! As you can probably tell after reading this, it can be an incredibly contrived place! 

Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube |

The Green Tea I Can Actually Drink

Thursday, 25 May 2017

I’m sure you have already heard of the benefits of green tea, that it’s one of the healthiest things you can drink. Unlike a lot of other herbal teas does contain caffeine so it’s a good alternative to coffee if you still need an energy boost. (I definitely needed one, I don't know if you've noticed but it's been a while since I've posted here but I do mean to jump back into a regular posting schedule!)

I really love herbal teas, but green tea was the one tea I could never really drink, every time I tried it I found that it had a strong bitterness I couldn’t get past, despite the fact I often drink my coffee without milk or sugar and I never sweeten my tea either. I tried this green tea anyway and I thought I’d share it with you, because I've been drinking it non-stop since then. I’m sure I have probably mentioned my love of Pukka tea before, but this one was actually bought for me, after I had a bit of study burnout, (I would never have bought green tea for myself!) but I think it helped me get through my last exam and I’ve been drinking it ever since. If you tend to overdo it on the coffee like me, I think it’s something healthy to drink for the summer, and it would be really good iced!

Mug, Tiger | Supreme Matcha Green Tea, Pukka Herbs

More miracle benefits of green tea.
Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Snapchat: @sadiyahearts

Beauty & The Beast Inspired Moodboard

Friday, 17 March 2017

Everyone's really excited for the new live action Beauty & The Beast and I thought it'd be fun to share some pieces inspired by the tale as old as time..

Also, to get extra caught up on the story, I really love these two YA retellings of the tale:

Beastly, Alex Flinn

Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram, | YouTube |
Snapchat: @sadiyahearts

6 Budget Matte Nude Liquid Lipsticks

Monday, 6 March 2017

I'm currently loving nude liquid lipstick, so here are a few of my budget friendly picks. Nude lips are neutral enough for everyday and liquid lipstick doesn't slip and slide during the day which makes it really low maintenance and wearable too.

1. Sleek Matte Me Lip Cream €6.93, Feel Unique | 2. New Look Matte Liquid Lipstick  €7.99, Asos | 3. Barry M Matte Me Up Lip Paint, €6.65 Asos | 4. Topshop Liquid Lip €12.00, Topshop | 5. Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick, €8.95, Beauty Expert | 6. Gerard Cosmetics Hydra Matte Liquid Lipstick, €13.70, Beauty Bay

Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram, | YouTube |
Snapchat: @sadiyahearts

Ready: Stylish and Smart Carry-on Luggage

Thursday, 23 February 2017

I'm collaborating with Ready Luggage to share with you this amazing piece of smart luggage. If you travel frequently you will understand how amazing it is when you find something that makes your trips easier. You can't go wrong with Ready Luggage, there's a lifetime guarantee so you can purchase knowing you're covered if your ever unhappy with your luggage. I'm planning on travelling in the summer and hopefully studying abroad next year and I think this suitcase would be the perfect piece of luggage.

It's beautifully designed, very stylish, it comes in a variety of classic colours.

It's incredibly strong, it's water, impact and scratch resistant.

It's got an integrated scale so you can weigh you suitcase anytime to ensure you don't exceed flight weight restrictions.

It also has a phone charger to charge your devices on the go, no more dead batteries on the go. The Ready app also has a distance alert to remind you if you're accidentally leaving it behind.

It's got plenty of interior compartments to keep your stuff organised so you can whatever you need quickly. To learn more about the design and purchase one click here.

Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram, | YouTube |
Snapchat: @sadiyahearts

Semester Survival Kit

Thursday, 9 February 2017

I thought I'd share the apps and sites I use to help me stay on top of college assignments and projects.

Deadline - Android
This is app is a lifesaver for me because it stops me forgetting about even smaller tasks and assignments. Whenever I'm given a deadline, I just put in into this app and it stacks my deadlines in order of what's due first and tells me how many days I have to complete each assignment. It's so helpful, it's been a wakeup call for me more than a few times when I check it to see 'you have two days left on an assignment..

Quizlet - Android | IOS
I find flash cards to be so helpful when trying to learn off different key terms for any subject, this app lets me create my own sets of flashcards. There's also an entire site full of flashcards made by other people on a variety of topics that can also be very helpful.

Forest - Android | IOS
Stop yourself from constantly checking your social media accounts when you're trying to focus on studying, I really like forest, which rewards you for the time you spend not using apps by growing a cute little tree. Any attempt to leave the app before the time limit you've set means you're asked if you want to let your cute tree die, I find it pretty motivating!

Alarmy (Sleep If U Can) - Android | IOS
Supposedly the world's most annoying alarm clock, this app won't turn off until you have answer a maths problem or taken a picture of something specific like your bathroom sink for example. Very annoying but very helpful for getting you out of bed in the morning.

Trello - Android | IOS
This app is great for group projects because you can all add to 'boards' and 'cards' you can all see what needs to be done, is being done and move tasks from list to list. It has a very easy user friendly layout too.

Evernote - Android | IOS
I don't really use this app for note taking, which is kinda what it's mainly for, but it has a very handy feature that make taking photos of documents similar to scanning them, very handy when I'm given a brief or something on paper and I need a digital copy of it.

Most bloggers already use Pinterest, but I'm mentioning because I think it's great if you're working on a creative project or on a group project, it helps you and people you're working with to collect your ideas and inspiration in one place so you all see it in one place.

Written Kitten
If you're struggling to make the word count, this fun online typing space awards you with a picture of a kitten, puppy or bunny for every 100 words you type!

College Info Geek
I only recently discovered this site, but it's a mine of information about how to make the most of your college education with lots of college related hacks, tips and inspiration.

What apps do you used to stay organised?

Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram, | YouTube |
Snapchat: @sadiyahearts

10 Cute KBeauty Picks

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

So I've previously mentioned that I discovered Kdrama (Korean TV shows) last year and it quickly snowballed into a serious addiction. I can thank/blame my friend who recommended a Korean show to me. I've been watching the dramas for nearly a whole year now and I think I can actually understand some basic Korean words.

Anyway, Kdrama addiction is a serious disease, symptoms include: initial culture shock, total immersion due to complete obsession, and then a sudden interest in other aspects of Korean pop culture/products starts to emerge, for example, Korean beauty products. Now that I've explained how I developed an interest in KBeauty, I'm sharing some super cutely packaged Korean beauty products I've discovered. I think that products packaged in a fun or kooky way like this are quite common in Asia but here in Europe they're still pretty new to us.

1. Tonymoly Pocket Bunny Moist Mist
I purchased this myself and I really love it, it gives your skin a little moisuture boost throughout the day which wakes you up a little bit when you're tired.

2. Etude House Dear Darling Water Tint
I loved this too, it gives your lips a pretty stain which looks completely natural, a great product for a 'no makeup' make up look.

Lip balm packaged in a funky cherry shaped pot.

4. Tonymoly Cats Wink Compact
A cute pink cat shaped powder compact to keep you shine free.

5. Etude House Tear Drop Liner - Pearl #1
Make yourself look bright eyed and bushy tailed with this sparkly eyeliner, it opens up your eyes and looks really pretty on.

6. Tonymoly I'm Real Skin Care Facial Masks
I haven't tried these sheet masks yet but I loved all the other Korean sheet masks I've tried so I really want to try these ones.

7. Tony Moly Petite Bunny Gloss Bar in Peach
How cute is this bunny lip gloss?!

This adorable panda eye stick is supposed to soothe, refresh and hydrate tired eyes.

9. Tonymoly Egg Pore Steam Balm
An egg shaped pore steam balm which is supposed to work wonders to make your pores shrink and disappear.

10. Cute Black Liquid Eyeliner Pen
These little eyeliners are waterproof as well as cute.

Would you try any of these? What do you think of the packaging?

Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram, | YouTube |
Snapchat: @sadiyahearts

My Most Read Blogs 2016

Monday, 16 January 2017

I thought I would share with you the different blogs that I read the most during 2016. I like a lot of different blogs for different reasons and these are in no particular order. Most of them fit into more than one category so they're only roughly categorised. 

Minimal lifestyle goals.

A down to earth fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog by a Northern girl.

A lovely dreamy lifestyle blog, super chilled and pretty.

A Belgian Clean, authentic alternative lifestyle blog lots of vegan recipes and natural living.

Carefully curated fashion, beauty, food and lifestyle posts from across the blogosphere. Also ton of motivational content like blogging and career advice.

Inspiration ideas to help you 'design' your best life and be your best self.

A polished and minimal style blog by an Irish girl in New York.

Latest trends and luxury fashion as well as lots of other amazing luxury travel and lifestyle content.

Casual but polished minimal style with an edge.

Fashion for the everyday girl.

An Irish style blog for the accessible everyday outfit inspo.


A treasure trove of blogging advice.

A well of creative inspiration.

Lots of amazing design tutorials and inspiration.

A ton of beautiful colour collections to inspire you.

What were some of your favourite blogs in 2016?
Other places to find me  | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram, | YouTube |
Snapchat: @sadiyahearts