Well now that my sister Claire is well into her 20th year of life and finally received her birthday present from me, I can showcase the top 10 essential items for her upcoming semester in Europe. And also the ten things I subsequently gifted her for living 20 years.

Claire, these are the things (I think) you need to study abroad:

1. First things first, you need a bag for to use as a carry-on, for daytrips, or even weekend trips if you’re actually a frugal packer. You need a well-made bag with pockets, that ideally has vogue detailing even more accentuated by a sharp instagram filter in your trendy abroad ‘this just happened to be taken behind me while i was looking at a cool mountain/ocean/tree/building/European-soccer-player’ type of pic.

Bannock Stamped Backpack -
Bannock Stamped Backpack -
Trendy detailing!!!
Trendy detailing!!!

2. THE MOST UNDERRATED TRAVEL ACCESSORY IN THE WORLD (that I still am too cheap to own myself): A quality neck pillow. Good God, the hours spent exhausted and/or hungover on a flight that could have been spent getting much-needed shut eye were instead spent squirming in scoliosis-esque positions trying to get slightly comfortable. My sister SHALL NOT deal with such distress.

I even tested it out for you! You can lay all sorts of ways. Sideways, forwards, and backwards!
I even tested it out for you! You can lay all sorts of ways. Sideways, forwards, and backwards!

3. (Mom will cringe at this one) Another abroad essential I didn’t enjoy the luxury of having when needed-- Flip flops. For the showers. In the hostels. For walking around your hostel room in general... EWWWW You need flip flops. Don’t lose them.

4. This one is important. The age-old conundrum of traveling the world as a budding 20-year-old is the crippling realization of two truths: One: OMG I DON’T HAVE TO BE 21 TO GO TO THE BARS HERE. LET’S GOOOOOO. Two: OMG WHERE’S ALL MY $$ WHY IS IT $10 FOR A BEER (at the cheap bar too?!?). The answer: A flask. Don’t get this taken. Don’t let strange European men fill it for you either.

5. You said this one yourself. Socks and underwear. “Not even trendy socks, Em, just normal athletic socks.” Probably a good point, and definitely one I overlooked. With all the traveling, there might not be time for as much laundry and you cycle through those smelly things every day! So here’s some socks (not the trendy kind). Didn’t get you underwear.

6. Word on the street is that planes, trains, and busses are germier than a toilet bowl (no clarification on the tested toilet bowl’s country of origin). Hence hand sanitizer!

7. Clif Bars are a perfect travel food. Easy to bring along, nutritious, tasty, and appropriate to eat wherever (almost--not the Sistine Chapel) and whenever (even in the wee obliterated hours they seemed great). But after I ran out of the five I imported to Australia, I really couldn’t pinpoint a new granola bar of choice (Ain’t nobody got time fo dat when you’re abroad). But I did find time to make some homemade Clif Bars that were pretty good...but I doubt anyone else is that crazy so I would just pack a solid amount.

8. You did say you need a journal to record this European adventure, and I think that’s totally necessary, but some peeps can get picky on what type of journal they want so I left that to you (or is that just me being picky because I’m a paper goods nerd?). But I also recommend bringing a disposable camera or two. Take it out every so often and snap a pic throughout your semester. We are accustomed to immediate gratification once the flash goes off. We can retake, reposition, adjust the flash, get another angle… Taking in an amazing scene to truly experience something new, for many, is robbed by the stress of getting the perfect picture. I love the concept that with these cameras, you can’t delete or retake. Nothing you take in on this journey is disposable so why have your photos say otherwise? Plus when you come home it’s the best treat to develop the film and see your one-of-a-kind sequence of pictures!

9. Bring American foods. Yes, while you’re abroad you better take in local cuisines and even embrace their snack culture (Tim Tams anyone??). But for those weak’ll want a taste of home. I left for Australia right before Valentine’s Day, and mom lovingly gifted me some Hershey’s kisses. I left them at home because please, chocolate kisses aren’t healthy (to be fair I was going to some top tier beaches). Yeah and about 2 days in I JUST WANTED A HERSHEY KISS. I didn’t want any weird-tasting candy or fancy chocolate. I wanted my Hershey kisses. At some point it’s really good to separate yourself from these comfort foods you don’t really need, but’s nice to ease into it. Also how great is it that these Cheez-Its come in snack-size bags? The first thing I did when I got back in the US was down half a family-size bag of these crackers (the only size the airport sold) and pass out on the floor at Gate 35 of LAX in a cheez-it-induced coma. These snack-size bags should prevent such a coma. But I digress.

10. Studying abroad is going to be AMAZING. That’s not to say there won’t be a time you’re pissed off waiting for a bus to the airport at 4am and you HATE carrying your overpacked bag (although thank God for the aforementioned trendy backpack) and you JUSTTTT want to eat a damn cheez-it (or 70) and cuddle your puppy and talk to your mom-- know that it’s all worth it. For some reason your internal meltdown at the bus stop will be a part of your self-discovery. Your whole journey will definitely be filled with mostly highs (lol Amsterdam) but for those very infrequent lows, remember that your loved ones back home are always with you, and will be waiting to hear great stories when you return. But here’s a piece of home to hold close to your heart!




Creating my personal logo was unlike any other design project. There was a lot of pressure to make a logo representing my name, my work, my website...really anything I put forward. It could by no means be lame, weird, ugly or boring. It had to be something I wouldn’t get sick of looking at or using, at least for a while.

I really craved a logo that represents my style, my type of work, my vibes, and my personality. After lots (and lots) of drawing, testing, gathering feedback, and trying again, I FINALLY have a logo! This was one of the most time-consuming design projects for me, but so worth it in the end (all for a simple logo). I really think I could tweak again, but I’ll settle for now. The design process is never-ending...

Some friends have said “oh you’re lucky you have a cool name, so the ‘E’ and ‘G’ can work together.” Let me tell you my friends, my name did NOT seem cool. When I was in the discovery phase researching and collecting inspiration, I thought THAT’S NOT FAIR--some people have such easy names to inspire cool logos! Well everyone’s name has something unique and cool to it...but you might have to dig deep to find it.

Made some business cards to help market my design work (and because it seems like a trendy thing for designers to do these days). Really need to crowdfund for an actual camera or something so I can get decent pictures of my work, but for now, check these out: