Welcome to Victoria’s Favorites! In this new lifestyle column, you will find the latest grabs from the best brands, as well as the top hits from music, entertainment, and more!
My name is Victoria Giardina, and I am a freshman at the College of New Jersey studying journalism and professional writing, with a minor in communication studies. I am also performing independent research at Columbia University on investigative journalism and global media. With my love for writing, up-to-date research of the best products and lifestyle must-haves, and adoration for beauty and products that scream “girly girl,” I created this column. To be featured in the next column, send your questions to @victoriagiardina on Instagram!
April was an incredible month! Time management was essential throughout this month more than ever with the balancing act of school and extracurricular activities, as well as some fun family events throughout the month!
This month only features four favorites, simply because I have more experiences than products this month that I’ve loved. Minimalism is key for the spring season, especially with spring cleaning and preparing for a change in seasons. The stoic and frigid winter months are now transformed anew into blossoming branches and flourishing flowerbeds. Take a look at some things I am grateful for:
Favorite #1: Reading at a bookstore before class
This favorite may seem like an outlier at first, but I have been absolutely LOVING reading in the morning before my 11:00 a.m. and even 9:30 a.m. classes! I have always enjoyed reading—specifically those cliche books at Barnes & Noble under the “Live Your Best Life” shelves to feed my soul with motivation and inspiration in the morning. As a college student, especially when already assigned so many readings as it is, it is quite difficult to devote a scheduled time to leisure reading. I find that waking up early in the morning—after a coffee, sometimes—is the perfect way to start my days.
Recently, I have completed What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Both were excellent in creating a vast vantage point for the reader to learn concepts such as joy, habituality, and resilience. Winfrey’s book was chock-full of goodness; I was so tempted to highlight each sentence. The advice is beautifully crafted and I strongly recommend this book for an experience of enlightenment. When I am not reading novels in the morning, I pick up a New York Times newspaper and begin reading the front page. As a journalism major, it is vital to stay in tune with current events and know what is happening both nationally and internationally. So, naturally, I enjoy reading the news!
I have a terrific mindset heading into my journalism courses and reading a great book is my morning boost. I would strongly recommend making time (even if it just for 10 or 15 minutes) to spend time reading words that fulfill your strongest interests and passions—you will be happy you did!
Favorite #2: The College of New Jersey’s Ambassador Program!
I wholeheartedly mean the following words: I have never met such an incredible and empowering group of individuals than I have met through my experience in the College Ambassador Program. As a freshman applying, I felt such a strong welcome and so much love among all 152 of us as soon as I was officially certified to give college tours to prospective students and their families.
Although the biography on the Program’s Instagram account says that we have been “walking backwards since 1985,” that is only touches the surface of what this program does. Aside from giving daily and weekend tours, working long days for Lion’s Day Open Houses and Accepted Students Days, we are by all means a family and I know I can rely on any single ambassador in the program (as well as the two coordinators and the entire college admissions staff) whenever I need them.
It is only my first semester being part of this special group and I am already soaking up all that I can from the incredible campus experiences I have been blessed with. The long process of going through shadow tours, tag team tours, and the final certification tour to “earn my stripes” will be worthwhile in the long run. I remember my first official tour, when a high school student came up to me at the end of my hour-long tour and said, “I want to be a journalism major and communications minor too!” I probably spent more than a half hour after my tour just talking to her about how much I love my campus and how resourceful it has been to me only as a first-year student. Afterwards, she told me she committed to TCNJ and handed her deposit in to the Office of Admissions. How humbling is that?
Although at the end of the day being a College Ambassador is a job, it has proven to be so much more than that. I have the selective opportunity to represent the diversity and caliber of TCNJ students with a great passion for helping others throughout the college process. The conversations I have with prospective students and their families immediately takes me back to when I was a high school student touring what is now my ideal campus, having the abundant enthusiasm in my eyes as I looked at the beautiful brick escapade of buildings.
As I embark on this incredible journey for the next three years after this semester, I will hone every single opportunity the College Ambassador Program will provide me. Each person truly plays an integral role in the program and I cannot be more excited to walk backwards a countless number of times here as a student!
Favorite #3: My college dorm!
I know I have been moved in for months now (I am already finishing off my freshman year...how crazy is that?), but I am especially appreciating my cute girly room more than ever! If you are approaching your first year of college in the fall—or any year for that matter—you definitely need a good night’s rest. And, this is only possible by making sure you have the smoothest, silkiest bedding to sway you into a soft slumber. Nest Bedding has great mattresses and bedding, especially comforters and blankets. Their washable, all-natural cotton and wool materials ensure quality that will last the duration of four years as an undergraduate and beyond. They also feature pillows, sheets, furniture, and even items for children and pets!
As for my specific room on the third floor of my building, I have a MOUNTAIN of pillows! I seriously have way too many, but I love the comfy vibe it gives to my room. My pillows were purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Home Goods and they match my bedding from Urban Outfitters perfectly! My throw blanket is from Marshalls and adds beautiful texture to my bedding.
The wall decor—purchased at Hobby Lobby—is essential for pops of style, and can even be used as a gallery wall for an office in my apartment next year. I absolutely love the simplicity and modernity of the wall art I have purchased.
For a cute and preppy feel, I contacted a local Etsy shop for a custom-made wooden monogram to hang on my wall (with command strips, of course!). I spray painted the piece pink as soon as it arrived in the mail and completed the interior design project with pink, white, and navy tassels, also from Etsy. Dorm room decorating is definitely enjoyable, so going to different stores and outlets for your pieces will have your room looking straight out of HGTV Magazine in no time.
For a unique yet practical twist to your humble abode, make a coffee station! I purchased my cart from Hayneedle (the specific one is not sold anymore) and it was such an adorable addition to my space! I picked up the girliest straws I could find (pink and white striped) and added a succulent plant and artful mugs to decorate the cart. The pull-out drawer below the counter for the coffee machine has vertical slots to keep all the coffee pods and extra sugar packs organized. I topped it off with a miniature towel for an authentic look and it comes in handy on those mornings (yes, especially the 8 a.m. class) when a caffeine boost is much needed.
Favorite #4: Michael Kors Smart Watch
This accessory is AMAZING! After my boyfriend gifted this gem to me for my 19th birthday (thank you Peter!), it has altered the way in which I go about my day. I love wearing watches and have been wearing my Fossil watch ever since high school (link to a similar watch here), but the rose gold band and black face is so modern and sharp—suitable for any look.
The watch set I received also came with two leather bands- one black and one pink; but, I love the rose gold hardware in its original packaging that I decided to keep it on ever since I started wearing it.
I wear this watch when I am exercising throughout the day and also when I have a formal presentation. The watch itself tracks daily steps and fitness goals, as well as heart rate. Because I receive notifications from my cell phone on my watch, I have diminished screen time on my phone which is SUCH a plus! I used to check my phone constantly because I was always worried that someone urgently needed something from me, but now, every time my watch vibrates, I no longer have to shuffle through my backpack in class to quickly see if I have received any notifications or missed calls.
This watch is definitely a lifestyle staple and its versatility makes this the perfect watch to add to your collection—a smart watch, to be exact! ;)
QUESTION OF THE MONTH:
Morgan asked, “What is your favorite makeup brand?”
Hands down, my absolute favorite makeup brand is BareMinerals! Its products are so natural and perfect for sensitive skin. It leaves your skin looking fresh and beautiful at all times during the day.
For eyeshadow and blushes, Nars and Tarte are great brands as well! (Overall, I kind of live at Sephora).
Victoria Giardina is an 18 student at The College of New Jersey pursuing a Major in Journalism and Professional Writing with a Minor in Communication Studies. Victoria's favorite movie is The Greatest Showman and you can never find her without her planner! As the founder of Kick It Cancer (www.kickitcancer.org) and a news anchor for her campus-wide news station- LTV News, Victoria steps up for community outreach, leadership, and creative storytelling. In the future, Victoria hopes to work in the broadcasting industry in New York City.