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Archive for February, 2010

The Sun Really Does Exist!

Ciao ai miei amici e la mia famiglia!

IT’S FINALLY SUNNY HERE TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND WARMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another week is almost over and I can’t believe it really!! I feel like we just got back from Rome but it’s almost Friday again! I’m actually kind of glad because this week has been a little more stressful.

We had our first Italian test today and our first oral exam yesterday…and not that I was that worried but still it’s the first test here. Thankfully they both went very well and I’m glad they did! I don’t know how I did yet but I feel like I knew a lot of the information. I had all the information we were tested on before in January so this was more a review for me. We’ll find out tomorrow how I did on the written test!

So when I wasn’t preparing for that, I was eating, relaxing, and going to watch kids from our school- Accademia Europea di Firenze play in a soccer tournament. I don’t know why but I absolutely LOVE watching them all play soccer!! They all get along really well and play well together and are such a great team so I just love cheering them on and they love us cheering them on. They had 2 games on Monday- tied one and lost one- one Tuesday that they should have won and one last night that they DID WIN! It was awesome because everyone who was there was SO happy!! And it was just as fun to witness it!! I just love watching and cheering them on! They have games next week too so you can count on me being there!!

Tuesday night after the game, we went to some of the girls’ apartment to have a “girl’s night” dinner and that was really enjoyable too because I got to know some of the other girls better and that made me feel better and that I will be able to find a connection with people outside of my apartment. I don’t want to be friends with just a few people here!!

Yesterday after class Corey wanted to go look for boots so we found this store and I found this awesome pair of boots for 10 euro!! I was SOOO excited because they’re boots I wouldn’t normally buy but I really like them!! Then we tried going to COOP (our favorite massive grocery store) but the bus never came so we had to go to Billa instead, so I’m still out some food- but no fear, I can always scrounge something up to eat! HAHA I feel like I eat SO much here but I guess I walk so much so it evens out? I don’t know but to those of you know me- you will be proud. I now eat oranges and I am sort of enjoying bananas a little more now too!! SHOCKING I know. I’m proud of myself and I may have mentioned this in another post but I’m up to bananas. Who knows what I’ll come home and like?! I could be a completely different person…but if I am…I hope it’s in a good way.

Today I went shopping at Zara and bought a dress and a sweater that I like a lot but it cost around 55 euro total and they wouldn’t let me use my credit card without either my driver’s license or my real passport. I was NOT happy so I had to fork out the cash and I realized how much of a tightwad I am. I need to learn to do better because I am doing JUST fine on money but I feel like I keep wasting it when in reality I am not at all. Oh well. It’s a good lesson to learn? Sure, we’ll go with that.

This weekend I’ll be in Florence and I’m pretty excited to be here for once! We may be taking day trips to Lucca and maybe some other place but for the most part I’ll be here! To people I don’t get to talk to very much- we should try and skype! 😀

I’m so thankful that we saw more than half a day of sun today and it was pretty warm! It made me feel magnificent because I was getting seriously tired of all the rain and clouds. Unfortunately now it’s cloudy again and looks like it could rain but I’m done with class for the day so it’s okay.

Oh one more thing that is becoming on my nerves- not that I want to complain but I’m not sure what to do. In my political science class, one kid- Andy, gave his presentation but didn’t really know a lot of stuff on his topic gave a presentation and he got a B+; honestly I was a little surprised but whatever. Then Peter, who is really smart and knows a lot because he is a poli sci major and in my opinion gave a really good presentation, but he got a B+. TOTALLY UNFAIR in my opinion. Peter tried fighting it and he gave excuse my language- bull shit reasons- and said there is a “HUGE difference between an A- and a B+ and that getting an A- is nearly perfect” Well I don’t know about him, but I had a much harder professor last semester and I got an A and I worked my butt off just like Peter did. So anyways Dr. Morgan sat in on our class Tuesday and she thinks that what we’re learning is a Master’s level Economics class when:

1. It’s a political science class

2. It’s a 374 level NOT masters

We all really want to drop it because we hate it so much and really don’t understand what’s going on and I have to give my presentation in 2 weeks and I’m really nervous because I CANNOT get a B in this class because well…the first B I get at Elon WILL NOT be in Italy. He told Peter that we have to read ALL the readings- which are nearly 200-250 pages a night and that we need to go to the Florence Library and read supplements that he didn’t even tell us. I can’t even keep up with the regular readings. I’m not here to kill myself in this class- I’m not going to do it. And if Peter’s presentation was a B+ I don’t even know what mine will be….so it’s really frustrating and I need to figure out what I’m going to do.

So that is what my life consists of right now…perhaps when I return on another post I will have a little more figured out about this class. But for now I’m going to enjoy Florence and the sun and my wonderful life.

All my love…

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When In Rome, Do as the Romans Do.

ROMA!

I LOVE THAT CITY SO MUCH. Seriously- I would never ever live there but I would certainly visit as much as I can and every time I’ve been to Europe, I have had the opportunity to visit and I just love it as much as the time before. Rome is like a Washington D.C. or a Chicago so it’s a bit overwhelming to navigate but man! What a great place. When I think about all the history that those streets have seen, I get goosebumps. 6000 years ago- civilized people lived there?! And I was walking around it!? Crazy. And what really gets me is all the Biblical history that Rome has; Peter and Paul were IN Rome. ROME. AHH I can barely put into words how much I love Rome and everything that comes with it. If thinking about that doesn’t give you chills well then you should just go home…according to my professor….I don’t necessarily agree with those words but people don’t seem to understand how much history that city is filled with. Okay off my box of soap. Onto details of the weekend.

So we had class on Friday and watched La Vita e (with an accent) Bella. SADDEST MOVIE OF MY LIFE. I am not going to explain it so if you’d like to know, feel free to IMDB it or Google it. But it was definitely a tear jerker. :/ After that, we grab lunch at the Oil Shoppe, a local Florentine place that is mainly for American students and has really good food. We walked and ate at the same time because it wasn’t raining our train left at 1:40 and it was currently 12:15 so we needed to save as much time as possible. We get back to our apartment and finish up our packing and are ready to leave by 1. But instead of leaving with time to spare we leave at 1:15, and it takes 20 minutes to walk there. AND IT WAS RAINING A MONSOON. A MONSOON. There is NO exaggeration in that statement AT ALL. It was beyond ridiculous how hard it was raining. So we are rushing through the streets of Florence, practically running so we don’t miss our train. It was pouring and my pants were wet to the top of my thigh because I ran through 12 puddles that went to my knee anyways. SO CRAZY. BUT we made it so I can’t complain too much but it was ridiculous how much it was raining and how fast we were moving.

The train ride was unbelievable because it was so fast and we got there in about an hour and 5 minutes! SO AWESOME. We didn’t waste any time traveling there so we almost got half a day in Rome! We arrived around 3 and then Peter, Jason, Eliz, and me went on our long search for our hotel. It was quite the trek as we ended walking around for 40 minutes trying to find it! haha Peter asked a Flower guy where it was and then a travel agency but I ended up finding it using Eliz’s directions from the hotel to the Piazza Repubblica! I have to say I was quite proud of myself for finding it! The Hotel Medici was really nice- 3 star- in a quiet part of Rome so it was really nice. We got settled in room 221 with our “king” size bed (2 twin beds pushed together) and then headed off to meet Dr. Morgan and everyone else at the Piazza Repubblica. We went into a church that Michaelangelo designed and attempted to figure out the architecture. Then we took the metro to the Spanish Steps and climbed those and saw a beautiful sunset. It was a wonderful view and I’m so thankful to have experienced it. Then we went to another main Piazza and then headed to the Pantheon and that is also very beautiful at night! We walked right by the restaurant where our 2008 group ate lunch. It brought back wonderful memories. We went in and saw the top that is not covered with the bright night blue sky and then a white bird- sea gull I guess? flew by. It was a magnificent sight to witness. Then we walked some more and then went to the Trevi Fountain, at night, again…I can’t even tell you how thankful I am that I got to see it for the third time. It’s so beautiful and wow, it was great. I took my pictures and threw my coin so good luck to me! Then Dr. Morgan left us and we were on our own for dinner.

I was with Elizabeth, Joey, Peter, Jason, Kelly, Nick, Liane, Kierstin, Erin, and Eric and we just happened across this place near the “Wedding Cake”. I don’t even know what it was called but the waiters were SO nice and accommodating. We got free sandwich appetizers and then sweet things after dinner. I had rigatoni alla carbonara, and it was beyond delicious and then Eliz and I shared an ice cream sundae like dessert. Then we walked back to our hotel with all the guys and that was really fun because it was truly the safest I felt the whole time I have been in Italy. We talked to Jason, Peter, and Eric for an hour or so and then went to bed by 12:30. I was truly exhausted by the time we got back because it had been a really really long day. But totally worth it.

We got up around 8:45 and went to have breakfast with the boys at 9 and then I got ready. We left around 10:45 and went to the train station to get tickets to go home on Sunday. After that we went to our meeting place for the day to find some lunch. We were going to try this one restaurant but we realized we wouldn’t have enough time to eat before we had to meet everyone. So we went into this small pizza/panini place and I had a prosciutto panini and a Fanta. Again, it’s all good here. Then we waited for 15 or 20 minutes and then started our journey through Roma. We met outside the original entry gates that were used in Ancient Rome. Amazing to think they are still standing today and that they are still in good shape. Then we walked into the main square where Rome was “sort of started” and then started walking towards St. Peter’s Basilica. We passed by Caesar Augustus’ own mausoleum and that was pretty cool and then walked by the Castle of the Angels were the Pope hid out during war time. And then we walked into Vatican City!! 🙂 It was a bright sunny day in Rome which made it even better. The Basilica was so beautiful close up and far away. We practically butted in line to get into the Basilica but once we were in, as usual, I was amazed at how wonderful and intricate it is. My favorite part is the Pieta and the altar above the supposed relics of St. Peter. Again, I am so thankful to have been there 3 times now and it’s beautiful and wonderful every time I’ve seen it. We spent about an hour in there and then went to see the tombs of the Popes and that was also really cool because I have never been there before!! Obviously there wasn’t much to see but it was still impressive. Everyone had left our group of 11 at that point but when we returned from the tombs we saw Dr. Morgan waiting for us. She led us to the Vatican Museum and then left us, it was definitely strange. We got lost in the Museum 2 times and it was closing at 5:30 so we had to hurry up because it was already around 4 by the time we found the right way. We had to rush through the rest of the museum part which was kind of upsetting but I had seen it before. I was just sad for everyone else who didn’t take the time to see how the wonderful pieces of artwork that that museum is filled with. We finally made it to the Sistine Chapel and yet..again…for the third time I just stood there and stared at the detail and how wonderfully spectacular it is. We just stared at it and sat there taking it all in. AND! I thought since I’ve been there 2 other times, I should try and get a picture of the ceiling. AND I GOT IT. Go on facebook to see it, it’s not that great, but I got a picture and I’m proud! 🙂

We finally exited the museum and then found our way to the train station. We got on no problems and got off at the Trevi Fountain stop to find dinner. We randomly came across this restaurant on a side street and even though it was really expensive it was delicious!! I had FRESH gnocchi with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and chardonnay and creme brulee which tasted like eggs but it was totally fine. We left and decided we were going to go out so we headed back to our hotel to get ready. Eliz and I got ready quickly and then headed down to Peter and Jason’s room to hang out and then Eric, Jason, and I went to find gelato and we found a WONDERFUL place really close to our hotel. Went back and then Nick and Joey were in the room so we just hung out for a while and then the rest of the girls came and we talked and watched really funny tv and laughed and such. It was a lot of fun. We decided to not go out because we didn’t want to pay for it and we were a little tired too. So they all left and then the 4 of us talked and then Eliz and I went to bed. It was another wonderful night in Roma and even though we didn’t go out it was still really fun and I’m glad we just hung out and got to sleep.

Got up around 8:30 again and met the boys for breakfast at 9 and then hurried to get ready so we could check out by 10:30. Checked out with no problems and left our bags in the hotel so we didn’t have to cart them around all day again. We went to meet Dr. Morgan and the rest of the group at 11 at the Colosseum. We saw the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, which is the third time for me…..and again- so thankful to see it all again but at the same time, there is only so much you can see at these places. So it was a little more boring for me but it was a wonderful to see it again, but if I don’t go see it again I think I’ll be okay. Then we got lunch at a place who hated us because we were American and we asked for separate checks. But I had a delicious buffalo and fresh tomato pizza and then gelato. YUM. Again, I keep eating well, so don’t worry about it. 🙂

Then we hurried back to the hotel, got our stuff, ran to the train station, and made it with plenty of time to spare. We left on time and got to Florence about 20 minutes early! It was wonderful. The rest of the night we relaxed and I got to talk to my parents and some of my friends. Eliz and I were also really chatty and laughy so that made for an interesting night… 🙂

It was truly a wonderful weekend. I love Rome so much and am so glad I got to go back and experience it all again with all of these kids, it was wonderful. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to see all of it again and who knows if and when I’ll be back. I ate well, learned lots, and most of all had a great time with my friends.

Today was fairly easy. Went back after class and did some homework and just hung around and then we went to see our school play soccer during a tournament and that was a lot of fun yelling and cheering; even though we lost. :/ Then had neri gelato as a treat!

A busy week lies ahead- I have an oral exam and then a written exam! YIKES. But like always…I’ll get it all done.

Off to do as the Romans do and rest my tired eyes. It’s been a long few days.

Love to you all….

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Some Lessons Learned

I said I’d be back to share with you all about cooking lesson and other things I realized about myself while I’ve been here.

So Monday we went to a cooking class to learn how to make fresh pasta, which I actually have done before- surprising I know! On the menu was: fresh spinach and ricotta filled ravioli, tagliatelle with a vegetable ragu, and a chocolate torte. We arrive at the cooking school and get to work right away. I was feeling insecure and intimidated because my cooking skills are not up to par with where they probably should be, as last week Sarah had to teach me how to scramble an egg because I didn’t know how to! Absolutely pathetic, I know…. anyways, we have a bowl of flour and 2 eggs and we’re supposed to create a crater of flour so we could add the eggs in the middle of this crater. I felt like all eyes were on me waiting for me to screw up, a completely irrational and untrue fact, but I still felt that way. So we are mixing the egg with the flour and it’s going okay and I’m feeling pretty good, the dough looked like it was supposed to and so we moved on to the rest of the lesson. I peeled the skin off the roasted red pepper and then sliced it Julianne style and I actually did it correctly!! 🙂 Next, it was time to start forming our raviolis so we used the same machine to flatten out the dough. I thought I was doing okay and for me- I probably was. But Roberto thought I wasn’t doing it good enough so he decided to “teach” me the proper way and was fussing at me because I waited too long and the pasta had dried out. Anyways, I felt really self-conscious about my cooking skills. He, Roberto, was actually really nice and I think it was just his way but of course he chose me to critique. The vegetable ragu with the tagliatelle and the ravioli with sage and butter and especially the chocolate torte was TO DIE FOR. It was SO DELICIOUS and I felt proud because I MADE it!! The whole process was interesting and I learned a lot about cooking and what to do and what not to do and just learn to experiment.

So as of right now, I decided that this summer I am going to experiment and learn how to cook different food items. I’m going to use different cook books and recipes that I like and cook them for my parents, friends, and other family. I think that by 20 I should have some experience cooking and I am going to make that one of my summer’s goals. I don’t want to be married and not be able to cook! I know it’s a learning process but I might as well start now! So I will use Giada’s cookbook and Taste of Home and other recipes and just start experimenting. And I’m going to try and hold myself to it too. It’s written on the internet, so it has some validity.

I have also come into some more knowledge about myself that I guess I knew but never really realized before, if that makes sense…? I really am a people pleaser and I get really self-conscious and nervous when I think someone is mad at me or I’ve disappointed someone. I don’t like to think that people don’t like me or that not everyone likes my personality. I want to become more like my Mom because she’s at a point in her life where she really doesn’t care what people think about her and I always liked to think that but in all honesty- I’m not there yet. I guess it’s a part of life to learn and accept that not everyone will like you and even though I always say, “Oh yeah, I know, it’s fine, whatever…I don’t care what people think of me”, it’s not always true. If one of my friends or an important adult are mad at me or disappointed in me, I can’t stand it. AT ALL. But for those people who don’t know me and who I guess you could say, “judge me”- I don’t care, at all. I guess everyone feels that way, but when I think someone is mad at me I get really quiet and my heart beat gets faster. It truly is the weirdest thing I’ve realized yet. Also, I try to “compete” with others by telling of my different experiences but I realize that gets annoying because not everyone wants to always hear about what you’ve done in the past and where you’ve been etc. So then I got self-conscious about my conversation skills. Also, I don’t like to complain a lot but sometimes I do complain and get a “sour” “I’m not happy with my life” look. Just because I complain sometimes doesn’t mean that I’m not enjoying myself but sometimes things aren’t always 100 percent awesome. SO also- I’m going to try and present myself with a happier manner. It will help all those around me and maybe will make me an outward happier person. Because truly, I’m not unhappy, I just don’t always look or act like I love life 24-7. Strange things I’ve realized but maybe it’s because I’ve seen other people and how different their personalities are and so I start analyzing myself. That whole last paragraph was total analyzation but I feel better being able to “talk” and write about it because now I can let it go and just move forward. I will work on all these things but I’m human so it won’t be perfect now or ever. I’m going to try and not let myself get upset if someone is mad at me and I’m going to try and present myself in a “happier” manner. I think that everyone in my life can appreciate this effort to change. We all know how I can be…

I didn’t anticipate this post to be this long but I really do feel better and I really will try and improve myself. Italy is full of all kinds of new things, even life lessons!! Maybe I will be back on here in a month and share something else I learned. I just don’t want to lose my self-confidence that I have 90 percent of the time. Thanks for reading and I promise I will try and make these shorter, but all I can do is try right?

Off to learn my next lesson…Katie

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COOP, Carnevale, and Feeling at Home

Hello all!! We meet yet again… Well it appears that I continue with these lists for my blog titles. And just an FYI, I will try and cut this post down as much as I can but I can’t promise anything because A LOT has happened since we last met. So be prepared for this very long journey through my weekend.

Friday: I went to bed pretty early on Thursday because I wasn’t feeling well and knew I needed sleep for Venice and plus we were going to this huge supermarket just outside Florence for class on Friday and I wanted to feel okay for that too. So we get up and head to Accademia and start our walk to the bus stop. And when we arrive in front of COOP I COULD NOT believe the size of this place!! Everything in Europe is downsized compared to America EXCEPT for this!! It was incredibly HUGE. It took up practically a whole block and it had different department like stores inside too! I’m telling you- it’s a sight and I will be back so I will try and take some pictures. We did our activity and then just spent time taking this place in. It’s like Costco/Sam’s Italian style because there’s fresh pasta, meat, bread, cheese, salami, proscuitto, and anything else you could ever imagine. SO OVERWHELMING but so incredible. I basically stood there in awe of this new magnificent place I was introduced to. After our activity, Elizabeth and I started our shopping trip. We were like little kids in a candy store because we were flitting back and forth between different places of the store to take it all in and see everything and then pick out certain items to buy. I forgot to mention this but on top of this amazing place- EVERYTHING IS CHEAP TOO! Which makes all of us like it even more. Anyways, we stood in line and packed up our exciting new items in our pink COOP bags and the other bags we brought. I bought a bunch of different items for under 40 euros which is less than I’ve spent at a grocery store yet here. I felt like I was sort of at home being in COOP. It was truly a wonderful experience. OH! And to add to it- I found canolis for cheap! 2 of them!! And they’re big!! AWESOME! Anyways it was just a wonderful experience. 🙂

The rest of Friday was pretty uneventful. We went and got our train tickets and money from the ATM for our weekend adventure to Venice for Carnevale. We spent the rest of the day inside our apartment to rest and prepare for our very early alarms. Mine went off at 1:44 AM and then 2 AM. I was asleep by 9;30 and that was really nice, but weird at the same time. I awoke by 1:50 and got up and showered and got the rest of my stuff ready to leave by 3:30 for the train station. It was a very brisk walk to train station but all 4 of us were pretty excited to start this adventure. It was the first time for all of us to travel like this on our own. It was refreshing and felt surreal. Of course because it’s that early I didn’t talk very much and it probably seemed that I wasn’t enjoying myself but I was, like always, just taking it in silently. I have realized a lot about myself on this trip, which I will discuss either later in this post or on another one. Onto the rest of this day…

We get to the train station with plenty of time to spare and meet Luke, John, and Laura and head to the train. The train was DARK when we got on at 4:05; that’s how early it was! I wasn’t really tired either, which surprised me. I’m really glad I slept though I know that helped A LOT. So we are on the train and then we find the rest of the Elon people so they come and sit with us and after the train started to move we talked for a while and then everyone passed out. I didn’t really sleep on that train because I thought we’d miss our stop in Bologna. I might also add that we spent 14 euro on this train, but we had to stop in Bologna and also leave at 4:30 AM…haha Anyways, we arrive in Bologna and have around 10 minutes to catch our next train and seeing that no one had ever done this before we were all paranoid we’d miss the train so we all kind of just started running! It was really funny and it woke us all up. We had MORE than enough time and didn’t really need to run but it made for a story/adventure. We got on the train and THEN I fell asleep in a really weird position actually but I slept for probably 45 minutes. It was a refresher to say the least. Eliz and I were sitting with Elon kids who were getting off at a different stop than us so after they got off we still had about an hour left. We slept off and on and then finally made it to San Lucia Train Station in Venice, Italy. 🙂 It was strange to be there again, as I saw it from a TOTALLY different perspective than I did the other 2 times because this time it’s CARNEVALE. THE BIGGEST party I’ve ever seen in my life! Seriously- it was unbelievable how many people were there. The costumes and stuff reminded me so much of Boar’s Head for all you Saint Charles/Immanuel people. I was brought back, but in a good way. We walked around for 3 hours before the shuttle from our hotel would come and get us. We kind of just tried to get our bearings and etc and then grabbed pizza at a random place before  we reached Piazza San Marco. By the time we finished that we had to go meet our shuttle, which was on the OTHER side of the city so with all the crowds and stuff it took us a while to get there but we made in plenty of time! I felt like I was at the inauguration but with people who didn’t speak any English and who pushed and shoved a little more. It was overwhelming and for those who know me, know I don’t like crowds, so it got to be a little much. We made it and got on the bus and as our driver was whipping in and out of cars I was reminded of how crazy Italian drivers are and also about how good of a driver Enzo was. Truly amazing how no one seems to get hurt. We made it to our hotel and it was really nice! Nicer than I was expecting! Corey goes to check us in and we could all tell that the lady was a little rude and there were 6 of us instead of 5 so she made us pay 25 euro extra for another bed. She was just really rude and it made me aggravated, we were paying, not a problem at all. So the 4 of them decide to nap all day and Eliz and I wanted to explore Venice more. So we hop on a shuttle at 2:30 that took us back to Venice and we weaved in and out of people for an hour, no lie I looked at my watch, but made it to the Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square) and it was SO FREAKING CROWDED. I’ve never seen such a place be SO full when I’ve seen it SO empty. It was SUCH a strange feeling. Again, was feeling a little overwhelmed but also was trying to take everything in without getting upset or annoyed. I think I did pretty well…that’s for Eliz to decide I guess. haha We went to look at the water and to breathe it all in. Of course we couldn’t get to the water but got close enough for it to count. The thousands of people was just a sight to see. Even though I never want to go back for Carnevale, I’m really thankful and happy that I experienced it. I always complain during something but then always realize what an experience it was and the things I learn from it. We were supposed to be meeting other Elon kids so we decided to find a place to sit so we sat behind the palace in front of stores on a stone/marble column and plopped there for about an hour. We people watched, as we both enjoy it, and just tried to yet again, take in the whole experience. We finally found the other Elon kids and decided that we wanted some sort of dessert so we found this place that looked decent and went inside. However, once we got in there, we were surprised to see that they weren’t too happy that we just wanted dessert because 3 men came up and took everything away that had been in front of us. Silverware, napkins, and the bread. I guess it’s some sort of etiquette? I don’t know but none of us were happy and we all a little scared about the price of our 6 items: a hot tea, 2 coffees, some sort of alcoholic drink, a tiramisu, and a lemon cake. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong, but the whole experience wasn’t enjoyable in the least. Then we walked around for a while; I bought a ring and a pair of earrings (which broke this morning, glad they only cost me 3 euro). We were supposed to catch the 11 shuttle but decided that we were exhausted and got on the 8 o’clock one instead! I know it was so early and the point of Carnevale was ‘to rage’ but I couldn’t. I still didn’t feel well and I didn’t want to prolong the sickness. So Eliz and I were in bed, asleep, by 9:30 again…but nonetheless, we had fun and it was a very enjoyable day!!

Sunday: I woke up at 8:45 and got in the shower. The rest of the group was passed out as they went out at 8 and got back at 2. I honestly wanted to enjoy the city and just couldn’t do the night life thing on Saturday. We got ready, checked out, got on the shuttle, and was back in the city by 11:30. We dropped off Laura at the train station, got lunch, and then met our group for our art history tour. I honestly don’t want to get into all of that but it was really interesting and I think I learned a lot? I don’t know really but seeing all the paintings and stuff and actually having some knowledge that is relevant was refreshing. We also rode the water taxi back to the train station and that was another experience! It was SO crowded!! And I barely got on and Eliz and Jason had to SHOVE their way on and by shove, I mean push their way through the gate! HAHA We made it to the train station, went to the buffet, ordered pizza, got on another water taxi that took us to our bus, and were on our way back to Florence by 6:20. We watched a Bug’s Life and then rested; I didn’t really sleep because I wanted to be able to sleep that night so I just listened to my iPod and rested. It was really nice to just SIT. Got back at 9:30 and was completely exhausted and went to bed by 11:30.

I was going to discuss today on here too but I think I’ll save that for my next post. But let’s just say it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot…and I did something I don’t normally do! 😀

But after being in Venice I realized how comfortable and at home I feel in Florence already. I was so ready to be back in Florence, in my apartment, doing my routine. I’m very much a routine person…SHOCKER I know. But it was just so great to realize how comfortable I feel already. It’s only been 3 weeks. It was just a really wonderful feeling and I’m thankful that I feel this way already. I really have transitioned well and I know that makes it easier on my parents and myself. I’m going to learn so much about myself on this journey that I can’t even begin to tell you what I’m going to find. I’ve already figured out a few things that I’m going to work on but other than that, it’s been such a rewarding experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Of course I miss my family and friends, but I miss them when I’m at Elon. This is such a totally whole new environment with new people that I know I will be forever changed.

Well it’s nearing midnight and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. Maybe when I don’t feel like doing my work tomorrow I can tell you about my adventure today. It definitely deserves its own post along with some more insights into what I’m finding about myself. 🙂

Stayed tuned because this book is no where finished….

All my love from the my 4th home…

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Birthdays, Sickness, and Snow

Ciao la mia famiglia e i miei amici!! (Hello my family and my friends…in case you didn’t know that) 🙂

It’s SNOWING in Florence right now!! I cannot believe it!! Completely ridiculous!! But I love it, even though it won’t stick whatsoever…it’s nice to watch.

When I last left you I was sick and well…I’m still sick….:/ I have a horrible cough, stuffy nose and head, and a little achey. BUT everyone else is sick too so it’s not the worst thing ever. Tuesday was Shannon’s 21st birthday, a girl on our trip, so after our very long day of class, we came back got ready and went to dinner to celebrate her and Corey’s birthday (which was on Wednesday). But before I can start that part of my night- I will discuss our “key” situation.

We come back after a long day of class and try to open the big door to get in our building and can’t get in…..none of our keys worked…..SO we decide to ring EVERY bell on the outside of the door until someone lets us in. In the meanwhile, Elizabeth called Betty and I called Fede to figure out what was going on. We get inside and read a sign on the door that we can’t read so Fede translates it and it says they changed the lock and the new keys are in the mailboxes…well we can’t get to it so she had to call the landlord and then they came to give us our keys and WHOA that was quite the experience. But we have them now and it’s all good.

So…on to dinner…we find it no problem and not everyone was there anyways so it all worked out. And that restaurant was DELICIOUS TOO! I mean they all are, but this one was really really good!! We got a few sample of bruschetta and then a free shot of limoncello at the end of the meal! But for dinner, I had gorgonzola ravioli and it was ah! just so so so tasty! It was ricotta and spinach filled and then had a gorgonzola cream sauce that had CHUNKS of gorgonzola. Absolutely wonderful! Then after dinner, we went to a bar to continue the celebration and that was a lot of fun too! I spent more time getting to know other people and it was really a lot of fun. Was home by 11 and skyped with some people and then went to bed! It was a good day!!

Wednesday was a fairly uneventful day. Had class, got lunch with Luke at another fantastic panini place! They cut the meat right in front of you and the cheese and YUM so tasty. Then we just came back to our apartment and relaxed for the rest of the day and then got Grom at night with Luke and John. (I got vanilla and lemon and it was a spectacular combination). I wasn’t feeling the best, but I was feeling MUCH better than Monday! And I went to bed early again so it was a slow, yet needed day. OH! The best part of the day is that I got a package from my Mom!! It had all sorts of things that I really needed and I was really happy to receive them all! It made my day!!

Today was my busy day again so I haven’t been back for more than 2 hours. Woke up feeling okay but then started coughing and sneezing A LOT so I’m not feeling the best again, but hopefully it’ll go away soon! Went to visit a church in Florence for Art History and it was gothic in architecture and really beautiful. I like learning about all the different aspects that went in to making these places because I appreciate them SO much more.  And then we got back, finished watching tv- my favorite past time- made dinner and perhaps I’ll be going out to celebrate Corey’s birthday but who knows- I should make smart decisions and stay in for the night. We’ll see…

This weekend we’re going to Venice on Saturday for Carnivale and I’m really excited about that! It will definitely be an experience to say the least. Venice is not my favorite place by any means so hopefully I won’t mind all the crowds and the drunken people meandering around me, and let’s hope I won’t be one of those drunken idiots! hahha I won’t be- don’t worry to all those parents and parent types that read this!! 😀 Just had to throw it out there.

I’m still feeling good about being here, I can’t believe it’s already been 2 weeks since I’ve been here! It’s already going by so quickly and I just want to make sure I don’t miss out on any opportunity because I won’t have this chance again. I really miss you all very much and think of you often. Sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine life at home, yet I miss it quite often. Keep me posted on any new happenings- you know how I get- I want to be IN the loop, not out of it.

A shout out happy late birthday to my rooms- Taylor!! I hope you had an awesome birthday IN London and I hope I get to see you REALLY soon. It’s been too long my friend…always katha

Okay well I will stop this now before it gets to be 1000 words again- no one will read these if they’re all that long! 🙂

Miss and more importantly love you all….

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WK-END

Well the first technical weekend in Florence is now over. And what a weekend it was!

Last post was Friday and I had just gotten up from a much needed nap after a long Wednesday night of not sleeping, a busy Thursday, and a tiring Friday morning. Since it was our first “weekend” in Florence, the four of us (my roommates and myself) decided to go out for the night to experience the traditional Florence night life. Just like at home, we didn’t leave or meet up with anyone until 10:30 p.m. so it was a good thing I had my nap because otherwise I would have been in bed by then! We were meeting Luke, which I have mentioned earlier, and his roommate, John at the Duomo and then we were going to go to a club- Club 21- to dance and just have fun.  Well when they finally get there, we start our walk, but like I’ve come to realize, we never quite know EXACTLY where we’re going.  We walked around for a good hour before we found Club 21 and when we realized how close it was to familiar places, we laughed and brushed it off. Although I think it aggravated me more than I realized because at this point I was cold and tired and just wanted to sleep, but I just went with it. So we get to this club, which I forgot to mention, but an Italian guy and an Albanian guy were the ones who showed us where it was and I’m glad because we still would have been walking around trying to find it. Anyways- we get there and notice that no one is going in and then it becomes clear that the club doesn’t OPEN until midnight. Thankfully we only had to wait for 15-20 minutes and then were let in but because we were some of the first people there it was kind of dumb and I just wasn’t having any fun.  But then as the night progressed, I decided to just enjoy myself and really had a good time.  Eliz and I hung out and danced and despite some of the creepy men that were there, it was really a lot of fun! After we left the club- at 3 am- Luke wanted to take us to the secret bakery, which people aren’t supposed to know about.  It’s places where people make tons of breads and pastries from 2 am- 4 am in order to sell the breads to different bakeries around Florence. It’s quite the deal!! Of course they make tons more money off us coming there than I even pay for when I buy a crosissant but it didn’t matter because the extra hour walk was totally worth it! So delicious! Then we all came back home and went to bed around 4:30.  Night One.

Saturday: Didn’t wake up until 12 or so and pretty much just laid around and discussed our night with one another! It was nice not to have to do anything and then we ventured out to get our train tickets for Pisa and came back. Corey and Sarah went out but Eliz and I stayed in and I got to skype with my family and Mac’s birthday party so I got to see everyone!! I was really happy because I was really tired and kind of feeling homesick and it just made my night!! After that went to bed. Night Two.

Sunday: Had to get up at 7 because we had to be at the train station by 9! Pretty early!! But I was sort of excited to see it again, don’t know why but I was! So we all walk to the station and then Sarah and I decide we were craving a McDonald’s hashbrown so we each got one and it was BEYOND good. Ah it just hit the spot!! I love them so much and obviously don’t get them at school or here, so it was just wonderful. Then we met our group and guide, validated our tickets, and got on the train to Pisa! It was such a beautiful day too- clear, sunny skies so it was great to look out the windows and see blue skies with mountains in the background. I read my homework and by the time I knew it we were at Pisa! We got off the train and thus began the Italian tour. And yes- it was ALL in Italian. It was hard for me to understand some things because I wouldn’t have understood it if it had been in English so that was frustrating. But the guide, Mateo, took us to different places outside the touristy spots that I’d never seen and it was just fun to look at and see all the buildings. But he continued to stop at places I didn’t understand nor did anyone else and we were getting REALLY hungry so then he finally let us go to lunch. But before that, we did go inside a church and witness about 5 minutes of their mass service in Italian- THAT was cool too! So we got lunch and like usual- I got a panini and some gelato ( which I haven’t had in a few days… 🙂 ) and then started walking to the main square where the leaning tower is.  Looked the same as last time and was pretty much the exact same weather, except a lot colder this time. We had a lot of fun taking the leaning pictures and then saw the Duomo and headed back to the train station.  It was nice to just be able to sit down and relax for an hour on the train as I was really tired from walking around all day.  And then I started feeling sick from being outside all day and my late night before so I had every intention of staying in….WELL that didn’t happen. It was superbowl Sunday yesterday and everyone was going to Club Space to watch it. And I thought how many other times will I be able to say I did that, so I went. Of course the game didn’t start til 12:30 but we were there at 11:30 and actually I had a lot of fun too!! It was crazy busy with people, Americans, all over the place, and food and just having a good time. I enjoyed some chips and salsa, potato chips, chicken sticks, a few french fries, and a few onion rings! 🙂 We left around 2, at half time, and came back to go to bed for class today.  Night Three.

When I woke up though I felt AWFUL. I know I’m getting sick now because well…I can just tell. So today was a hard day for me to stay focused but I made it through, came back, had some lunch, read SOME more, and then napped. Obviously I’m staying in tonight and will go to bed early so I can sleep well. Hopefully this will just be a cold so I will start feeling better soon. It was quite the weekend and I can’t wait to see what other adventures I get to go on!

All my love…

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So it’s Friday and I haven’t posted in a few days. Although I can see how many times my blog has been viewed and there were 38 views yesterday!! I couldn’t believe it actually…thank you all I really appreciate you reading this because this is basically my journal for when I’m here.

A few things I’ve learned since I’ve been here: it rains a lot, you can lost easily enough, but the food always makes up for everything.

I’m not entirely sure what exciting things have happened in the last few days, but let me try and recall at least a few. I must keep up my detailed posts.

I only had Italian on Wednesday so after that we met Luke, who is here from Elon too but is at a different university, and went to lunch. Of course it was raining and none of us anticipated THAT so we were walking around in the rain Corey used her scarf as a cover- it was a good idea but I didn’t wear the best scarf for that; so I was just roaming around with nothing over my head. Probably not the best decision, but OH WELL. Anyways, Fede told us about this American Diner that we should try and after she said that in class that is all I could think about!! I HAD TO GO. So when we met Luke, we asked him and so we were off on a hunt to find this said, ‘diner’. I had full intentions of this diner being not good but after we walked around for a half hour, I had to see. So we get there and it’s really small and on Via dell’Acqua (Street Water) and we order and the menu looks amazing, but I’m still a little skeptical because I don’t know how good American cheeseburgers will be in Italy. But when they came out and I ate some, oh my gosh- ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!! JUST LIKE AMERICAN CHEESEBURGERS BUT BETTER! Ah it was just so good, words cannot describe, it was just what I needed! The rest of the day was just pretty slow, Eliz, Corey, and I made a video for Rachel on facebook and everyone seemed to enjoy that, and then went to bed.

BUT instead of falling asleep like a normal human, I couldn’t fall asleep til after 2! 2 AM! It was absolutely awful I don’t know WHAT my problem was but it wasn’t good at all. AT all. Anyways, that made for a very long Thursday especially since I had class from 9-5. I did make it through and am very grateful I did. I don’t know what would have happened otherwise, guess you can do it when you have to. (Thank you Mom for saying those words my whole life). Anyways- for our Art History class, we were supposed to meet at the San Miniato al Monte (a 1013 AD Romanesque Church at the top of the hill overlooking Florence). It took us a while to get there because we couldn’t figure out exactly where the church was AND the steps we had to climb were RIDICULOUS. SO MANY, but again, like everything else, it was worth it. The view was gorgeous and breath-taking.When Elizabeth (our professor) started talking about the intricate details of this church, I was overwhelmed with details and information I didn’t know. All I could do was stare at this church that has been around since 1013- that is almost 1000 years! 1000! For I think the first time, I realized what that means. The church is beautiful inside and out. Not a lot of sculpture of brightness, but the mosaics that fill the church and the power that you can just feel from being in there is unbelievable. I just don’t see how anyone can’t believe in God after being in a place like that. There were hardly any lights on or heat, so the church was FREEZING but I honestly didn’t care. The architect who built it built it to celebrate the memory of Saint and built it with his ‘relics’, which we don’t know if they are or not. There were 3 aisles and stuff written all over the floors that referred to people buried near by or dedications to the church. The main mosaic was awesome- I mean I have seen ‘better’ but I really just think they’re all really cool. It was of Jesus, Mary, and St. Minius along with the 4 apostles in their ‘animal’ form/shape. Just breathtaking to realize that people would come from all over to see this church in the 1000s! Crazy to wrap your mind around. We stayed around to listen to the monks chant Gregorian and that was also unreal. Just so awesome to witness, I’m so thankful for my faith and how it helps me and what it teaches me and challenges me to do. I was just 100 percent reaffirmed of everything. And I know when I go to ‘bigger’ name churches, that reaffirmation will only increase.

And then today! Our Italian professors don’t want to keep us inside all the time, so they took us to the San Amborgia Market, where all the local Florentine people go. THAT was awesome TOO! Everything fresh and so many choices- fresh meat, fish, salami, cheese, pastries, bread, fruits, vegetables, clothes, everything! It was so cool, but gross at the same time as we saw a lamb head skinned (like a regular steak) WITH eyeballs still in it. That was disgusting to see and we also saw a bunny rabbit. That just made me throw up a little. Anyways- I got some strawberry jam filled pastry and it was really good. I ate it a little at a time but was delicious. 🙂 We will have to go back because there’s fresh made pasta- AH I LOVE FOOD! hahaha Then we went to the Chocolate Festival in Santa Croce and that was another wonderful experience! SO MUCH CHOCOLATE IN ONE PLACE. Again- it was so overwhelming but SO good! We walked around there and I bought 2 pieces of chocolate, which I will save for a later date. Then we came back and I napped. We’ll see what adventures we go on this weekend…I know we’re going to Pisa on Sunday, so that will be something.

Oh I should also mention that is has been raining here pretty much the whole time we’ve been here- at least the last 3 days- I’m tired of THAT. So pray for some sunshine and warmer weather.

All my love…

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