Zalando wishlist – no polyester challenge

Zalando has become my favorite hunting grounds recently, with convenient 100 days return policy and great prices. I have browsed for hours through tens of sweaters, cute, spring dresses and elegant shoes to find my own, personal style. I have decided to completely revamp my wardrobe several months ago, but I was a little hesitant to purchase anything as I am currently on a weightloss journey. Didn’t see a point in buying all the beautiful clothes I picked if my size was to change very soon. I have lost 7 kg (15 lbs) since the beginning of January, which accounted to going one size smaller. 

Nevertheless, as I look rather dreadful in my old clothes and have some savings, at the end of a day there is really no harm in embarking on an occasional shopping spree. Is there? There was only one thing I decided to do differently this time. I took an oath to live a more conscious life since the beginning of this year and thus all clothing items I purchase must be environmentally friendly. The wishlist I have compiled below has been specifically verified to be made of only biodegradable materials. 

Jeans

Wrangler HIGH RISE skinny fit jeans

  • Material: 51% cotton, 40% lyocell, 9% elastane.
Lyocell is a celulose fibre, which according to this source is made by “dissolving wood pulp and using a special drying process called spinning”. These fabrics are “more breathable and less succeptible to odorous bacteria growth”, so are perfect for gym wear and… aparently jeans as well. 
 
  •  Price 349,00 PLN [82,00 Euro or 92,00 USD]
Blue wrangler jeans

These might seem like very plain, a little bit boring jeans but I do think these would make a great base for other, more colorful and statement pieces. I had a huge problem finding jeans which did not contain polyester. Actually, it took me around a quarter of an hour to find these, that were esthetically pleasing and also of good quality. While ordering through Zalando you always have a chance to inspect if the item you’re purchasing contains non-biodegradable materials. 

Top

Diane von Furstenberg Lizzie Top in goldenrod shade

  • Material: 100% silk
Silk is a greatly renewable resource with one of the smallest impacts on the environment. It does not require use of persicides or fertilizers to grow as it is created by silk warms feeding on mulberry leaves. Most of the silk in the world comes from India and China. There are several concerns related to killing warms for silk.
 
  •  Price 1119,00 PLN [262,00 Euro or 296 USD]
Silk, yellow top with a yellow ribbon from Zalando

This top absolutely stole my heart. I don’t understand why, but each time I really like an item it turns out to cost an arm and a leg. Do you feel the same way? Almost everything I picked during my wishlist clothes-hunt was so expensive I felt guilty even looking at it. This top is definitely to die for and I wish one day I’ll be able to afford it (and fit into it!)

Biker Jacket

Oakwood Video Biker Jacket

  • Material: 100% leather
  •  Lining: 90% cotton, 10% polyester
 Leather is one of the most impactful materials in terms of the environment. At least that’s what I’ve heard recently. What the studies don’t show is that leather usually ends up being used for longer periods of time. I hope to learn more about the impact of leather production on the environment.
 
  •  Price 779,00 PLN [186,00 Euro or 211,00 USD]
Brown leather biker jacket

This biker jacket is lovely. I have purposely not chosen a black one as it is too classical for me. I have been thinking about purchasing such jacket for a long time. Several years ago I had one, but it was made of literally plastic (polyester) and I felt like boiling in it during summer and freezing to death during winter. 

Accossories

Marc O’Polo crimson-dark red shoulder bag

  • Material: leather
 What bugs me here is that even though I love the bag I have mixed feelings towards the producers for not giving specific materials. I would rather have a clear view of what the bag is made of to make a conscious decision if I in fact want it or not.
 
  •  Price 839,00 PLN [196,00 Euro or 222,00 USD]

Shoes

Nike Air max 1 – Sneakers

  • Material: leather and material
Again, like in case of the bag above, there is no detailed description of what the shoes are made of. 
 
  •  Price 569,00 PLN [133,00 Euro or 150,00 USD]
Nike Airmax shoes from Zalando.

I will always claim that Nike Air Max’s are the most comfortable shoes in the world. I have several pairs of these, blue, white, black, blue with pink Nike sign and so on. I love these shoes and if you ever have a problem with any sneakers hurting your feet – these shoes are for you as well. I think these shoes can be worn with everything really. They fit casual as well as a little bit more formal outfits and except several very elegant occasions I would never change these for any other shoes. 

Conclusion

All the items above are absolutely stunning and I would purchase each and every on of them on the spot. My issue is that I have a tendency to pick things that do not form a specific outfit, but rather can be pieces of several ones. This is fine at first, but after a while I always realize how my clothes never fit with each other and what a big issue it is. I end up only wearing a shirt with jeans and any shoes I have, because no accessories ever fit my outfits. 

For now all these items are going to stay on my wishlist until I find matching pieces which will together form an entire, cohesive outfit.

And what is on your Zalando wishlist? Let me know in the comments!

Erasmus – moving abroad – finances

Erasmus Programme is a tremendous opportunity for all students to experience an amazing adventure. A couple of years ago I also enrolled and travelled all the way to Leiria, Portugal. You can read about my personal escapade here. Ever since I wrote my memoir though, I felt like I didn’t convey even 1% of information I intended to. Only when I returned to the post I realized, how weirdly written it was and how much more advice I could put into words. While considering all the difficulties I faced at the beginning, I decided to start my “Erasmus series” with finances, grants and how to get by without excessive saving.

The grant – be careful about the dates!

While applying for an Erasmus one has to fill in various documents and questionnaires, including grant application. When I went to Portugal I was to receive 400 Euro a month for the entire period of my exchange. Grant was supposed to be transferred to my account in two tranches. One two weeks after leaving from Poland, and the second one after four months. What I didn’t know, was that in order to receive the second tranche I had to send various protocols to my home school. It would’ve been fine hadn’t it been such a great problem for my Erasmus Coordinator.

Be careful about Erasmus Coordinators

In case you didn’t know, the Erasmus Coordinator is a person who is supposed to help you during the exchange. Since you’re transferring from one University to the other there are usually two Coordinators. Coordinator’s main purpose is to ensure your transcript of records is transferred without delay. They should take strong interest in getting your grant on time and that you don’t die, wherever you’re going.

For the purpose of this blog post let me name my Polish Coordinator as the Cool Lady, and my Portuguese one as the Lazy Lady. Continuing, my Erasmus Coordinator (the Lazy One) didn’t bother to send a protocol to the Cool one, so I didn’t get the second tranche for months. Literally, months. I was so desperate for money my sister had to aid me for weeks!

The Lazy Coordinator had no apologies for loosing my transcript, nor did she ever say anything other than: “I’ll send it next week”. For a couple of months I was so stressed I found a job cleaning offices just so I didn’t starve (mind you, couldn’t afford flight tickets and didn’t want to return back to Poland).

My advice is: the moment you get to your destination, make sure your Coordinator knows exactly what documents you have to send back home. Otherwise, your entire trip might get a little bit too stressful.

How much money should you take?

That is a vital issue. I was not prepared for what happened. Even if I moved out of my parents house when I was 15 and usually got well with money, this time I went completely unprepared. I took additional money (a lot more than I usually spend), included price difference, currency change and all the little details. What I didn’t include, was the fact I literally had to buy everything.

Accommodation issues

The apartment I was supposed to rent was stripped of everything, including light bulbs. Before my landlord helped me I had to purchase flusher, kitchen accessories and so forth. I wasn’t prepared, as I rented my flat from abroad and my application included all those things. At the end of the day, Portuguese Landlord ignored our contract and simply didn’t deliver. Because I didn’t have much money, I couldn’t take him to court. Luckily, I was partly prepared, as I had some “just in case” savings.

To sum up, you should always consider that there might be issues you didn’t foresee and only go for an Erasmus program with savings. For the beginning, at least 500 Euro of back-up cash is sufficient.

Earning money on Erasmus

And I’m not talking about the Eramsus Plus+ Program which is based solely on working abroad. During my Erasmus I used to perform various jobs just to get more money for travelling. I translated articles and technical sheets for my previous employer from Poland. For a while I drew in AutoCad for other students and got paid in lunches. I even worked for a friend ripping wallpaper off from furniture exhibition. I had friends who worked in bars and restaurants. There are various ways in which you can get extra cash, which is always very useful. Even blogging or vlogging, can give you profit you might just need to get by.

Saving money on Erasmus

Saving money on Erasmus and not missing on anything is quite difficult. Possible, but difficult. What is important is to never loose yourself info excessive frugality and experience your trip to the fullest. I’d advise to eat lunch at Uni cafeterias and purchase Erasmus discount cards, which are of great help.

Cash or credit card?

That is one of most frequently asked questions I encountered while searching for information on Erasmus. I had a friend who got robbed in Granada, Spain on the second week of her trip and was left without any cash nor a credit card. Her family had to send her money through Western Union, but before she could claim it, her mother had to send her a passport via Fedex. Also, she had to travel all the way to Polish embassy, just so she could get her ID back.

Nevertheless, I still think a card is more reliable than cash. You can always ask for more money to be sent to your account, in case of emergency. It’s also rather easy to retrieve your card if it’s lost or stolen. Also, keeping a lot of cash in the place you don’t really know is risky. Reminds me of Coyote Ugly and the scene when a thief stole main character’s money from her freezer.

Is new bank account necessary?

That’s what I’ve been thinking at the beginning. I should just open a bank account in a Portuguese Bank and don’t worry about anything. Firstly, it’s not that easy. Secondly, everyone I knew from Erasmus had problems while closing their accounts. European Union laws allow no exchange fees while exchanging money through Bank Accounts. Due to that I think there’s no reason anymore to open bank accounts in foreign countries.

Zadar's Monument to the Sun on Erasmus

In case you need more information or are generally wondering about an Erasmus Program, check out this link or send me a private message!

The importance of travelling

As the proverb says: travel is to live. Since I started travelling often I realised how true this motto is. I tend to measure my time from one trip to the other, so when my day at work is particularly hard I’m motivating myself with simply stating when I’m going to visit some great place. Right now I’m counting days until my next adventure: I’m going for a weekend to Brussels, Belgium with a couple of friends and that is exactly what makes me endure some tough moments.

The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.

So why is it that sometimes we forget travel makes us happy and instead we rot at home? Mostly it’s the amount of chores we impose on each other, deadlines, sometimes feeling overwhelmed with social issues and workload. I know that when I become corporate robot I forget about anything really and simply sink in all the chores. If you’re in the same place right now where you walk and walk but you’re always in the same spot and feel zero motivation to move and drive anywhere really, here are several reasons why you should keep going and never give up on travelling.

1. Travelling broadens horizons and makes you a better person

It sounds strong, doesn’t it? Like getting into a car and driving to a nearby city for a sightseeing tour would make you truly a better person. And yet… It’s true, or at least I believe so. Going on an excursion always broadens your horizons. Even if it’s very short, to a place you’ve already been to, it’s still going to teach you something. It’s going to build up your experience and simply make you wiser. Example? Visiting another nation and learn about their culture.

Bonus anecdote: When I moved to Portugal (for my Erasmus) I was pretty much disgusted with all the people simply snapping their fingers to call a waiter at a restaurant. I thought it’s so rude! And yet… it’s normal there, so I learned that when I’m in Warsaw, I don’t have to get all airtight and silently rant and rave on their bad manners, but rather understand they might come from a completely different place than I do.

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A photograph of Prague, Czech Republic 2018

2. You can learn another language and improve your CV (resume)

Learning languages is vital. I don’t think I can stress enough how amazing it is to be able to communicate in a foreign language wherever you go. Right now, I’m using skills I learned years ago and can (hopefully) successfully communicate with you, my dear Reader in English. Before I moved to Portugal I used to learn the language from books and some additional classes, but only when I moved my knowledge of Portuguese sky-rocketed. Knowing languages can improve your position in applying for a job or even grant you get one!

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Nazare Beach in Portugal, 2014

3. Travelling makes you stay younger

Ok, I might not have any scientifical proof that it’s true, but I do believe travel makes you more active and therefore younger. Constant planning and plotting stimulates the brain and sightseeing is a great way to reach your 10000 steps needed for a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, when you spend so much money on plane tickets and hotels you just can’t afford food anymore… Just kidding, although it might be true in some cases. For New Years Eve this year I travelled to a city of Torun in Poland. Just for one day, a very short trip. And during this day I visited so many places, I walked more than 20 km in less than 10 hours!

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Barcelona, Spain, 2014

4. You can make friends from across the globe and cement relationships you already have

Meeting people from around the world not only broadens the horizon (see point 1), but also creates connections which not only let you have so much fun, but also allow you to travel further and cheaper. I keep in touch with many of my friends from Erasmus and we’ve exchanged many trips (I travelled to their hometown, they visited mine) for a fraction of a normal price. But what’s most important? The memories, because as you know, people forget years and remember moments. All these precious moments laughing at similarities and differences between our cultures (sometimes very distant, hello, my Brazilian friends!), teaching each other various things or simply hanging around could never be the same if I only had friends from my own country.

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Porto, Portugal, 2014

5. Travel lets you experience amazing cuisines

Oh, the food… how I love it. One of the best virtues of travelling is trying out different cuisines, flavours and products. My long time dream is to visit Italy, Parma, to be exact, and try all the amazing dishes there, including pizza with potatoes and different flavours of pasta. When I visited Croatia last year I fell in love with white wine (Grasevina), sea food, eating freshly caught tuna grilled at the beach, watermelon at noon under an umbrella, and so forth. Celebration of food teaches us love of life. I also learned several tricks of Croatian and Portuguese cuisine and definitely improved my cooking skills.

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A great steak in Lisbon, Portugal

So let’s go on an adventure!

So, don’t dwell on tough times, take a look at some sites with cheap flights, bus or train tickets or even, for a free trip, pack your bag and venture to a place you’ve never visited in your city. Learn new things and don’t let work and chores overwhelm you. Travelling really is a sollution for sadness!

Do you travel often? If yes, did you learn anything interesting during your trips?

Let me know in the comments.