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It’s been one week and one day since I’ve gotten back to the United States. BAHHH. And I have very very mixed feelings about being here again.

It is wonderful to see my family who I haven’t seen since the beginning of January and my friends too! I have yet to see Carlee or Sammy but hopefully I will see Carlee today! πŸ™‚ I have had the wonderful chance to see and spend time with Athena, Brooke, Brianne, Kara, Krista, Carrie, and Nathan! All people I’ve missed greatly! And maybe because I had a “I don’t like being here” attitude, I didn’t enjoy my time as much with them or maybe I really do feel different from them now. Not Athena as much, but the others, it also could have been where we were. I’m not sure…but I don’t want to feel different around them. I’m working on it…I think it’s just because I’ve been and seen so much that coming back to life at home is hard compared to them who weren’t abroad. But nonetheless, it was so good to see them all and hang out with them!!

Also since I’ve been home, I got to go to Elon for a few days and see Rachel and Taylor! The two people I’ve missed the most from Elon and in general and it was SO good to see them too. Things did not change between us and I’m really thankful for that. REALLY THANKFUL. We talked and caught each other up on our lives and it was just wonderful. I’m not concerned about maintaining our friendship when she goes to Australia in the fall. Β I spent the day with Taylor on Tuesday and boy what the reunion THAT was. Going 3 months without seeing one another was TOO LONG. But again! Nothing changed. And we hugged for like 10 minutes and chatted for nearly 5 hours. πŸ™‚ It was just SO good to see her and being away for that long reminded me how much I missed her.

Thankfully, I also got to see Elizabeth, Peter, and Jason while I was at Elon and that’s another thing I was really happy about. I miss those 3 so so much because we spent every waking moment together for the last 3 months and now, not being able to see them for the next 3 is going to be so difficult for me. I get attached fairly easily and I am attached to the 3 of them and I just don’t want things to change between us over the summer. I know I can keep in touch and even though we only spent 3 months together, it feels so much longer than that. I love each of them and everyone else from my trip so much and I just feel so grateful to have gotten to know each of them and spent so much time together taking class or shopping or going out. Florence was, without a doubt, the best experience of my life, and I would go back in a heart beat. Each person I met and got to know in Florence became my family and I would be nothing without my family. We HAVE to hang out next year because I don’t know what will happen to me if we don’t.

My study abroad in Florence changed my life and I learned so much about myself and what I want out of my life and what I want to do. I learned how to be more patient and go with the flow, something I always struggled with. I learned who I really can and cannot trust and what kind of people matter the most to me. I will never be the same and I have Florence to thank for that. I love you always Florence and I promise I will be back very very soon.

All my love…

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I cannot believe that I literally have TODAY left in Florence after 3 whole months of being here. I just don’t understand where the time has gone. I feel like we just landed here YESTERDAY and now we have to go back TOMORROW MORNING AT THE CRACK OF DAWN. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I am really really excited to see Di and Uncle and Jason, Michelle, and the kids of course. I have missed them SO much but I could just go see them for a few days and then come back here with everyone and be totally okay with that. I just don’t feel ready to leave yet. I think there is so much more left that I haven’t done and I don’t know how that is possible since I have lived here. In Florence. For 3 months. LIVED IN FLORENCE FOR 3 MONTHS. WHAT IS MY LIFE?! I AM 20 YEARS OLD AND LIVED IN FLORENCE ITALY. Sometimes I Just cannot wrap my head around that fact. This has been the best and most rewarding experience of my life and I will never ever forget it. EVER. I learned so much about myself and have made of the best friends I will ever have. Florence is a wonderful city and I feel so grateful to have lived here. I love all my friends here and all the experiences I’ve had. I do not regret anything about things I’ve done or said because they’ve all taught me something and I’ve become a stronger person for it.

I really do not feel ready to leave all these people and this place. I get attached easily and I am already attached and was after week 1 here. I hate leaving because we will never all be together in this place ever again and that just makes me sad. And I just don’t know how to deal with it.

Last night was both wonderful and awful because we said goodbye and had dinner all together at our favorite restaurant- Celestinos. It was wonderful to see everyone there together because it just makes my heart smile. πŸ™‚ But the goodbyes and realization that we were leaving in 2 days..then…was overwhelming and I lost it. I lost it bad. I held it together and then it just disappeared and I became a crying mess. I just realized we were leaving and we had no more of any of what we had and it was just awful. I pulled it together because I wanted to have fun because it was our last real night. We went to the boys and hung out and then went to Florence Pub where we all just love to go and hang out!!! I am not sure how long we were there but then we went to 21 to dance. That is where we went the first weekend we were here and that is the last place we will go out. I had SO much fun dancing because we were the only ones in 21 and the music was really good and we just had the best time ever. It was the perfect last night going out. Perfect. Then Eliz and I stayed up til oh…ya know…5 am. πŸ™‚ We put up pictures and talked. Now I have to finish up packing and spending my last day in Florence.

I love this city with all my heart and it will always have a special place in my heart that is filled with the memories and the people. Here is to, without a doubt, the best 3 months of my life.

All my love from the beautiful Florence…

“Con Te Partiro”

Well, I hate to say this, but I only have 2 days left in Italy……..and I’m not sure entirely how I feel about it.

A lot has happened in the past 2 weeks since I last posted something legit about what I was doing here in Italy. I will give you a quick…very quick…update and then I will venture on to talk about how I’m feeling currently about leaving this most wonderful country.

The weekend after my last post, April 22nd-April 24th, Elizabeth, Peter, Jason, and I traveled to the wonderful and beautiful Cagliari, Sardegna for a weekend at the beach. We left late on Thursday night and arrived only to find it was supposed to rain the whole time we were there….not what we wanted, but I wanted it to be a lot of fun and I think we had a pretty good time. On Friday, Eliz and I got up and had breakfast and then decided to take a power nap because the 4 of us stayed up talking all night. After our nap, we got ready and decided to go into Cagliari to see the city. We took a bus, stood in the rain, and saw this poor dog almost get hit like three times. It was a sad puppy, thankfully we saw him later! πŸ™‚ There wasn’t much to see in Cagliari but we had fun walking around and taking pictures. Β We had lunch at this place called, Hype, and it was very good–we had traditional Sardegnian ravioli. Β And Eliz had this amazing chocolate dessert! We saw Telephone, the music video, playing and started laughing because all 4 of us love that music video. Then we made our way back to the hotel and went to the grocery store to stock up for the night. We laid around all afternoon and got ready for dinner, talked some, laughed…a lot….and then had pizza. THEN. We decided to have some wine and play a card game, Kings. Well let’s just say that I think we all found out more about one another than we ever anticipated. It was still a lot of fun, nonetheless. We laughed SO much and just had a great time hanging out and getting to know one another better. We had to leave on Saturday because we had a field trip to Mantua. So we got up and headed to the beach…but ended up just sitting slash standing on a lot of rocks because we didn’t want to run out of time. Jason and I stood on the waters edge throwing rocks in the water and just having a nice chat…gotta love talks with Jase. haha And I even got a little sunburnt too! πŸ™‚ Then we headed back, I did some art history reading, it started to pour and then we left for the airport. Everything travel wise was really easy and we got to Genoa like 40 minutes ahead of time…the only problem was that we ended up taking a train at 7:40 that didn’t arrive in Florence until midnight!! I wasn’t too excited about that, but because Mantua got moved til 9, I was okay about it. We had a lot of fun on the train and the train reminded me of the train that Lucy took when she was in Europe. It was beautiful because we traveled along the coast and got to see the sunset–absolutely gorgeous view!! We got back and laughed a lot and then went to bed. We got up the to go to Mantua and when we got to the train station, no one was there. It ended up being just me, Eliz, Sarah, Corey, and Peter. HAHAHA Only 5 of us…so it was an interesting day but we had a good time. We got to see Mantua and bonded with our teacher…we definitely got brownie points for it!! πŸ™‚ When we came back, I had dinner with my parents at Tijuana for what is probably going to be the last time…..and then got myself ready for the last week of class!

Class was fairly slow, especially in grammar, because all we did was review. But conversation was a little harder because we had a lot to do for our final. On top of that, we had an art history project to finish, and my parents were leaving on Wednesday!! Of course, it all got done, no thanks to a few minor freak outs…but that is to be expected. We did really well on our art history project and both finals went very well. I am very pleased with everything. I feel sad though because Italian is over and that breaks my heart because I loved it so much. I’m so happy that I’m taking conversation in the fall and that I’m taking it with a lot of people from here because I will be able to stay connected to them through that.

Friday, after everything was over and done, it was time for our weekend in PARIS! πŸ™‚ I was SO excited to go to Paris, I had been waiting almost the whole time I’ve been here to go!!! Everything was smooth with my flight and I landed on time and got to the apartment with no problems. The apartment was beautiful and we could see the Eiffel Tower from the apartment. It was one of the prettiest views of my life. Peter and Sarah got there later than expected, but we still made it to dinner. And I am SO happy that we did because otherwise, I would have missed out on one of the greatest meals of my life!! It was SO delicious, just to have a steak and some potatoes!! AHHH I loved it and the weird thing is that we were in the train station and the restaurant was so fancy! But it was absolutely wonderful and delicious.

Saturday, we slept in and took a while to get ready, which kind of inhibited us from doing a lot of stuff but it was okay. We went to Sacre Coeur, the highest point in all of Paris, and it was a beautiful church!! We could see everything from there and even though it was a rainy, cold day, it was totally worth it. We went inside and the ceiling near the altar was the best part of the whole church because it had God the Father on one end, the Holy Spirit in the middle, and Jesus on the left. It was magical to look at. Then we walked down and made our way to the Arc de Triomphe…where we had lunch on the Champs Elysees–and the waiter wanted to take me with him!! AHAHA that was funny. Then we took pictures by the Arc and then went on the underground walkway to take pictures closer to it. I kind of wanted to climb it but it was raining and didn’t feel like getting that wet. After that, we went back to the apartment and relaed for a while before dinner. Dinner was…interesting….I decided to go out of my box and get fish, so I ordered trout. Well….it came as a whole, fried trout–head and EVERYTHING. GROSSS. So my Dad had to cut the head off and cover it up so I could eat it!! HAHA It was pretty okay, nothing I would probably choose for myself but it was still good. Then we rushed off to go see the Eiffel at night because we wanted to see it twinkle and sparkle on the hour. It was gorgeous. I loved it. We took pictures and then headed back to go to sleep because we had a busy day planned for Sunday.

Sunday, we went to the Eiffel Tower and went up to the very top and it was probably one of the most beautiful and wonderful things I’ve ever done in my life. I’m so glad I did it and to experience it with Sarah and Peter made it that much better. You could see EVERYTHING from up there and it was a beautiful day too, which made it even better. It was so great! Then we went to lunch and headed off for the Louvre. Now. I am all about museums, but I did not want to spend 3 hours there. Going with Peter, however, changed that idea a little bit. He loves museums and wanted to see everything he possibly could before he left. And I understand that, but the Louvre is HUGE, and I didn’t want to have to walk all the way around it. But that didn’t work out and we ended up walking around the whole place. I was a little frustrated with him because he refused to listen to me and it was just annoying but it turned out just fine. πŸ™‚ We always find a way to make things fun! We went to dinner at another great place for the Hesters and our last night….it was delicious!!

Monday, we got up and went to find the Statue of Liberty…that was an adventure…then we went to Notre Dame and it was beautiful…just as I remembered. Peter climbed the tower to see the view, even though it was raining…and we waited inside for him. Then a concert started so we had to leave, but we almost got stuck! THAT would have been interesting….then we got lunch and had a wonderful steak and fries. YUM. and then headed back to finish up packing before we had to leave. The ride to the airport was smooth but the airport was SO SMALL…so small. But it all worked out and Sarah and I danced on the plane–it was a lot of fun. We got the bus from Pisa to Florence and made it back to Florence by 12:30–a lot earlier than we anticipated.

Tuesday was devoted to studying and yesterday was the exam and NOW I AM DONE WITH SOPHOMORE YEAR OF COLLEGE!!!!! AND I have to leave…in 2 days….I am so sad about leaving this place and leaving everyone but I am excited to see my family that I haven’t seen in 3 months. I miss them but leaving this place, I feel like I am leaving a little piece of me here too. I love all the friends I’ve made and will never ever forget this experience. EVER. I just cannot believe it’s nearly over, I feel like we just got here.

The title of this post is a song we sang in class and the words, when translated, fit this entire trip perfectly. I will never regret one thing I did here and I am so grateful for everything that Florence has taught me and shown me. This is truly the best time of my life.

I leave bright and early Saturday morning and will be back in St Louis at 6 p.m…….so for one last time….

All my love from Florence….

A Much Needed Update

Hellooooooooooooooo

I haven’t updated in oh…2 weeks! 😦 😦 SO SO SORRY!

I will update you quickly now and then update in full later….

In the last 2 weeks I’ve been to Cagliari, finished Italian class, and been to Paris!! NOW I HAVE to study so that I can do well on my Art History exam..TOMORROW….and then pack and then go home 😦

The last 2 weeks in Florence have been amazing and I feel so bittersweet about leaving. I’m ready to be at home to see my family and friends but I really don’t want to leave here and all the people I’ve come to know and love so much. This has been one of the best trips of my life and I’m so thankful for each moment I’ve spent here.

I will give descrips of my adventures in these other magical places but right now–off to study!!

All my love….

Just some snapshots from my birthday…Enjoy!

My favorite Firenze roommate and me on my birthday

My parents and I at my birthday dinner at Celestino

My Favorite Boys

My bestest friends in Florence

My Wonderful roommates. Love them SO much.

I hope you enjoyed these. Just proof of a great day!

All my love…

Soooooo let’s count the disasters that are happening around the world……..

1. Another earthquake in China

2. Mudslides in Northern Italy

3. Train crash in Viareggio Italy that killed at least 12 American students

and finally…

4. Volcanic ash that has covered almost all of Europe and has cancelled thousands of flights and that have left millions stranded

How does this all affect me??

Well the mudslides and the volcanic ash made it impossible for me to travel to Parma today, which was a total bummer. Β However, I’m actually thankful that I didn’t go anywhere this weekend because my friends are in Barcelona, stuck, and have to take an overnight train to get back to Florence because the volcanic ash has moved so far south that it is now forcing Spain to cancel flights. THIS IS CRAZY SHIP as Enrico would say…Also the volcanic ash cancelled Taylor’s trip to Italy and so I couldn’t see her this weekend. Totally almost ruined my weekend. Neither of us were happy. Β It’s a scary situation and I’m scared I won’t be able to get home in 3 weeks.

Now that I’ve covered that I will now talk about what is possibly the best birthday I’ve ever had. #20 did me well and I’m so happy.

Tuesday night, after the soccer game, which we should have won, Sarah and I got Mexican food with my parents at Tijuana and that made me smile because I really wanted a margarita to celebrate my birthday, which I got. πŸ™‚ Then we came back home and got ready and headed to Naima to start the celebrations. πŸ™‚ We were the first ones there, which I expected, but it was my birthday so I did what I wanted. HA. like I wouldn’t do that anyways……Sarah bought me 2 drinks (very nice of her) and then everyone started to show up and we all just hung out and drank and talked and took pictures. It was SO MUCH FUN. I LOVED that part of my birthday because most of us were together and just having fun and I don’t know…it was just really a fun night. And I got to ring in my birthday and be the center of attention–which I like most of the time…especially when it’s my birthday. πŸ™‚ I know selfish selfish of me but it’s only my birthday once a year.

Wednesday (my actual birthday) I got up and and got ready and went to school like any other day; had class and it wasn’t terrible. Then Eliz and I met my parents and we had lunch at the pizza place we ate at the first night. SO DELICIOUS. πŸ™‚ Then we came back to the apartment and I did my art history assignment and then went to my parent’s apartment to hang out with them and I watched some TV. We talked and it was really nice and then it was time for dinner so I went back to my apartment and got ready and then went to Celestino’s for dinner. Of course. Where else would we go??!! haha I ate my WEIGHT in food there but it was TOTALLY worth it. It was really enjoyable to spend time with my closest friends here and my parents–I just feel so thankful to have all these new people in my life and am just so happy I came here and got to know all of them. Then we came back to our apartment and got ready to go out and then headed to the boys apartment to pre game. When we got there–EVERYONE WAS THERE. EVERYONE. AND IT WAS SOOOO AWESOME. I LOVED IT. It just made the whole night even better. We just hung out and were getting along and then I called my sister-in-law and chatted with the chillen’s which was much needed. I miss those kids SO SO much. Then we left and took more and more pictures and went to Yab to dance the night away. and THAT was also SO MUCH FUN. I was having the time of my life. I was dancing and not caring and wasn’t even that drunk. Then I got up on the platform and was dancing up there and watching everyone dance below….ahhhh it was incredible. It was definitely one of the best nights in Florence yet and what’s even better is that it was for my birthday!! AH I just want to look at the pictures forever so I can remember how great it was and how much fun I had. It was truly the greatest birthday ever.

The rest of the week was slow and after everyone left I got into a weird funk and didn’t really feel like doing anything which could also be because of how tired I was. I slept a lot and watched a lot of TV and relaxed. Yesterday, I had lunch with my parents and then hung out with Erin, Kierstin, and Kelly and that was a lot of fun too. I feel like I got to know them a lot better, which is sad since this trip is almost over, but I really like them all and will miss Erin when she goes to the Naval Academy. Today, we got up to go to Parma but like I said it was not an option so we just hung around here and then I hung out with my parents and took them to the Piazzale so they could see it. So beautiful–especially today since it’s so nice out and sunny! πŸ™‚

Now, I’m just sitting in my apartment absorbing all that I have to do this week and praying that my friends get back safely and that the world waits to end a few more years or at least waits until I get back to Saint Charles.

All my love…

Ciao!!!!

I love Italy. Enough said. Never want to leave. Ever. I mean I am excited to go home, don’t get me wrong, but I just love Italy and especially Florence. I was sitting in the Piazza Signoria to listen to music with Eliz and Peter and I was just sitting there taking in the whole situation and just realizing how blessed I am that I get to actually LIVE IN FLORENCE. It’s just a wonderful feeling to be able to say that I live in Florence. I have been neglecting that thought in the last week and when I realized it again and realized that I am only here for 25 more days. I really need to just live in the moment and not worry about everything else around me…it all can wait. I won’t be in Florence forever.

I haven’t really updated in a while but it’s going to be a quick update. Seeing the Last Supper was an awesome experience because it was just SO neat to see!! I loved being in there and just knowing all the history the painting has seen; it’s quite the feeling. Easter was also a great experience! We went to church in Santa Croce and then saw the fireworks display by the Duomo; something that I can say I never thought I would ever see. It was definitely different but so neat to see because it’s how Italians celebrate one of the most important holidays in their religion. Classes started back up again and I didn’t really do much the rest of the week. Jeff and Lauren left on Wednesday and I was sad to see them go because I had a lot of fun with them and I was happy because Jeff and I bonded a lot and got to know one another better and it was something we both needed. I got to show them around and show them where I live and how my life works and I really enjoyed that. It felt weird to actually be showing someone my life in Florence because now it seems so natural.

Last week was a little rough but I made it through with the help of my closest friends, which I posted about already, but still really thankful to have them in my life. On Friday, my parents and I traveled to Lake Como in northern Italy and spent 2 days there. It was just so beautiful with the mountains surrounding the lake and seeing them with snow on top was an amazing sight. We took a huge “ferry” to Bellagio on Saturday and explored the city and had lunch at a wonderful restaurant and shopped around some. Even though I was crabby I really did enjoy myself and was really grateful that my parents took me there. I’m sure it wasn’t what they expected with my attitude but I think I was still recovering from the week before. I know that is no excuse but it’s all I really got. I should have acted with more grace and not been such a pain in the ass but when they get back from Germany today I will be much much better.

We went to Bologna on Sunday for Art History and it felt like a waste to me but it was neat to see the city…nothing too special though. I wouldn’t recommend it.

This week is my birthday celebration week–at least in my eyes–like I said we listened to music last night after the soccer game, and tonight we have another soccer game and then I’m going out for a while and then tomorrow is the big day! I feel nervous…is there something wrong?! I’m never nervous–I love my birthday. I need to get over this age thing…I’m only 20- not that big of a deal at all. I am excited to have my parents here and to celebrate with all my new friends. I love these people and will miss them greatly when we go back in…….25 days………. 😦 We’ll focus on the good and make the time we have left the best time of our lives!!!!!!!

All my love…