HELLO, from the blog!

Hi, friends!

I have been absent (very absent) on social media and the blog these past weeks. As you may already know from Instagram, I was backpacking in beautiful Italy for the summer. When I travel, I really like to immerse myself with all of the new sights, smells, and culture. With this, I prefer to disconnect from online activity, just to really take it all in! As I’ve mentioned before, I am very committed to living my best life and for me, that means knowing how to properly balance my online/offline time. In a world like the one we live in today, this often translates as not being a dedicated blogger. As much as I’d like to share everything with my readers, sometimes it’s the most authentic when I am not forcing content or post deadlines. I hope you understand…

I am in my second year of undergraduate studies. It’s a lot harder this year juggling school and life (maybe a post about that soon?), but I’m learning so much in both realms. I’m currently going through mid-term exams (PRAY FOR ME), but I am going to try to post about my travel experiences in Italy. In the meantime, feel free to contact me on Instagram or e-mail if you want to connect. xo

Much love!

Cuba Travel Guide

Hi, friends! I apologize for not posting in quite some time. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been in Cuba and have been busy with exams. The biggest takeaway that pertains to this post is that Cuba has really awful internet connection, if you’re even lucky enough to find it! If you’re planning on seeking sunshine in Cuba anytime soon, expect to not experience a wifi-friendly environment. On the bright side, this means more time to actually enjoy the surroundings free from technological distractions 🙂

Beautiful Havana

I’ll start off by selling tourism here by saying how magical Cuba is. Travel in general is pretty magical, but Cuba really is a gem. Between the hospitality of the people, absolutely gorgeous architecture, lush nature, and sweet smells; Cuba is a treat for the senses. I’ve traveled quite a bit and I have never experienced so much LIFE anywhere else.

If you’re fortunate enough to ever visit Cuba, here are some helpful insights to prepare you for your trip:

  1.  Cuba and Canada are lifelong friends. Being Canadian instantly connected the locals and I. Our countries have a flourishing relationship. If you’re from Canada, expect to make friends easily. (This is just what I experienced- I can imagine the people being friendly to everyone!)
  2. If you plan on going to Havana (which you absolutely MUST), plan on spending at least three days there. There is SO much to see. Old Havana alone has so many hidden treasures that can take up an entire day. Just roaming around Havana aimlessly will enrich your soul. You will see so much of their culture, and it’s beautiful Seriously, make an effort to get lost!
  3. This goes without saying, but the beaches are 10/10. You can find a lot of great beaches off the beaten path and even if they aren’t maintained, they are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Don’t stress too much about which beaches to make a point of seeing, they’re all stunning.
  4.  Skip the all-inclusive. Sure, if resorts are your thing, go for it. But, you’re better off with an AirBnB situation. Cuba is extremely affordable so eating and drinking can be done without too much budgeting. Having your own rented place will allow you to really immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine. Also, the Pina Colada stands on the local streets are the best I’ve ever had. Take it from someone who opted for an all-inclusive, I really regret not doing this when I went. I would’ve spent less $ and appreciated the experiences more.
  5.  Spanish is their official language but you can get by easily with English. I found almost everyone knew at least a basic level of English. I do recommend however, as with any country you visit, to learn a few basic phrases in their mother-tongue. This is out of respect, but also to gain a better sense of the world.

  6.  Great service? Tip! Just as in Western society. I was told when I asked service professionals that 1 peso is sufficient.
  7.  A warning to you females: Cuban men can be very forward and vocal. This can be a good thing or bad depending on your personality and comfort level. They will ever hesitate to tell you how beautiful you look, and you might receive several marriage proposals. It’s nothing like the degrading cat calls you might receive from construction workers but rather, extremely poetic comments and gestures. I’m the type of person who is super awkward with attention, so I wasn’t a fan but…I could definitely see how a lot of women would love this.
  8. Another warning to you females: The men are super attractive. I just had to find an excuse to gush. Moving on….

  9.  There is currently a Zika virus outbreak in Cuba. Bring that bug repellent with you!
  10.  Cuba is extremely safe. I walked around the streets at night without any worries. If you’re looking for a fun trip by yourself or with your girlfriends, Cuba is an ideal destination.
  11.  I traveled with Air Transat who provided me with my Visa documents to enter the country. Consult your travel line when booking your vacation and inquire if they provide your visa, or what steps to take to acquire entrance.

Overall, Cuba has the perfect balance of history, culture, tropical beaches, and scenery. I really wanted to get away for a bit because Canadian weathers are physically painful. I personally love learning about cultures and history, but I craved a sunny destination trip. Cuba was perfect to get the best of both worlds.

If you guys have any questions about traveling to Cuba, feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment below. If you have any additional insights, please share them with me also!

I hope you guys have a productive rest of the week, and a happy easter!! xo

Thinking of Going Back to School?

Out of all of my posts on The Sparkle Style so far, this one was by far the most I was excited to write. It speaks the loudest to what I value and what The Sparkle Style is all about: Self-Love.

About a year ago, I was on a date with my girlfriend and were were discussing what we would study if tuition was free and making money in life didn’t matter (sounds nice, right)? I thought about it and said, “Art History”. Anyone that knows me knows that I do not do regrets. The moment I said this, I knew that I had to pursue this goal no matter what!

 

This past September, I made the big decision to go back to school. This was a really scary idea for me as I had been out of a school environment for several years. I was in a very established position at a Cosmetics company, and that would mean that all of my hard work in that field would be given up for something entirely new. I also don’t live at home, so there was also the challenge as to how I would take care of my expenses. Not to mention, I was also so accustomed to my lavish lifestyle of traveling to far away places and dining out daily, which would no longer be as easily done. But, I thought, It’s now to never….

I returned to school in September 2016, so I’m still getting the hang of kicking ass as a Mature Student. But I can tell you that I am doing extremely well in my studies. A huge part of this is my interest in my major, and the other part is knowing just how much I “gave up” to be in my current position. There are so many wonderful and difficult outcomes that arise when you decide to go back to school later in life. I will definitely be writing another post on my experiences in the future, but I can tell you that the pros absolutely outweigh the cons.

 

So why this post?

I want to remind you guys that if there is something in life that you want – go out there and get it! There will always be challenges along the way but at least they will be your challenges. I have always found that those pursuing their dreams or passions in life are far more successful than those who chose a path just out of financial security. I understand that we all have responsibilities and life pressures BUT, I am also a firm believer that you are what you make out of your life. Whatever you pursue in life, I urge you to do it for yourself. At the end of the day, your hard work will always pay off. Don’t be afraid. Now starts TODAY!

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” – Einstein

 Have any of you gone back to school as a Mature Student? What was your experience like? Have you thought about going back to school?  If you guys have any questions about the process, let’s chat! I’m more than willing to give feedback  🙂 You can use the contact me page or e-mail me at thesparklestyle@gmail.com

Alright, I’m off to finish an assignment and then I’m looking into vacation packages for reading week. I need sunshine ASAP. If you’re following me on Insta, you know how I’m not a fan of winter weather.

Ciao! xx

Why I Embrace Getting Older: Birthday Post!

Wrinkles?  Jiggly bum? The inability to pull an all-nighter? Bring it on. I completely welcome all of the attributes of getting older. Today I celebrate twenty-six years of my magical life. And while I have learned so much these years, I wanted to write about why people (women specifically), should embrace getting older.

In a world where physical beauty holds more importance over inner beauty (no thanks to social media), I witness too many of my girlfriends desperately trying to avoid aging. Ladies, YOU ARE GOING TO AGE. Yes, moisturizing and exercise will definitely prevent you from aging faster but – you will age! I say, relax and accept it for what it is. Age gracefully, and not in a panic at twenty-five. Plus, I’m sure all that stress and worry about aging isn’t helping!

So, why do I embrace getting older? For starters, I get to learn new things about myself each year. I find I surprise myself more the older I get, in the best way possible. I’m sure this rings true for many of you as well. I think the relationship you have with yourself is the most important, so it’s a beautiful thing when you understand that relationship even better.

Wrinkles are attractive! Yes, I said it. Those laugh lines you have? It shows that you’re the type of person that smiles a lot, and hey, that’s beautiful if you ask me.

I care less about what others think. This might be my favourite one. I no longer care about what everyone else around me thinks. Understanding that my physical appearance does not result in how valued I feel in society. I no longer try to fit a standard. And let me tell you, it’s so refreshing.

Important people come into perspective. It’s really clear who is there for me when I need support. As we age, our groups tend to get smaller. This is such a time saver as I tend to put all of my energy into those who are in my life, so it’s really wonderful to spend that love on people who truly want to be around.

I can pass on what I’ve learned to others. I think it’s really important to share the love. If I’ve experienced something and I can provide advice to someone going through a similar situation, I’ll try to help as best as I can. Getting older means more experiences, life lessons, and overcoming more barriers. Share those experiences with others!

Feeling grateful. I may be getting older, but I’m healthy and alive.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we (as women) need to re-evaluate our priorities. Working on our souls should come before botox. A birthday should be CELEBRATED as another year of life, instead of another number.

Do any of you feel this way, or am I crazy? Weigh in below in the comments section. I’d love to know!

Anyway, even if it’s my birthday I still have work and lectures 🙁 But, I’m really excited to try an incredible Sushi restaurant tonight with the Boyfriend. I think I’m going to post my first InstaStory this evening so if you’re not following me on Insta, follow me here, and join the fun!

A Sparkly Introduction

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Hi, lovelies! Welcome to my first ever blog post on The Sparkle Style. Let me start off by saying how excited I am to finally introduce TSS. I have wanted to create this blog for many years, and I decided 2017 was the year I would finally step out of my comfort zone and make it happen. My plan is for the blog to focus on self-love through beauty, style, and travel.

I thought that for my first blog post, and my first post for 2017, that I would shower my readers in all the sparkly magic that is NEW YEARS EVE. I am a sucker for anything drenched in sparkles AND/or sequins, which is why it makes perfect sense to introduce the blog to you guys with a New Years post.

I’m not a fan of large crowds, which is why I always opt to bring in the new year with my family. Dressing up to the nines with loved ones and sipping on wine (or knocking back tequila shots), is my favourite way to spend new years eve. I imagine a lot of blogs showcasing 2017 posts with much to say on resolutions, tips on being a better person, and inspirational reflections…..which is why I will not be talking about any of these things right now. It’s not that these things don’t matter (duh), I just don’t want to begin blogging with a generic post.

Because my priorities are spot on, I’d like to move on and bask in all the WHITE SWAN princess glory that is THIS dress:

I’ve had this little number tucked away for too long. Seeing how I haven’t yet become a famous figure skater, I thought I might as well take the dress out for a spin…

// SHOP THE LOOK //
Dress: French Connection (sold out) / Choker Necklace: M for Mendocino / Earrings and other accessories: Betsey Johnson

   So, that’s it. Post numero uno! What did you guys get up to on NYE? I look forward to meeting and getting to know my readers so please introduce yourself to me in the comments section below if you love merlot, free vacations, and laughing at your own jokes.

xo, Nikole

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